A campus in crisis

By Andre Mojica | May | June 2020
This past year, my high school experience has been challenged to its very core.  On Thursday, November 14, a day that shall reside indelibly within Saugus students’ minds, we were all struck with tragedy when two young students were shot and killed on our campus. After the incident, I was escorted out by a multitude of police officers, SWAT team members and other first responders. My parents picked me up in tears. We then picked up my 12-year-old sister from the neighboring middle school and returned home. School shootings are not new to our society, but feeling the pain, grief and trauma firsthand was an experience that my family, my classmates and our community could not prepare for. But when I sat on my couch and finally felt like I could breathe, I began to work. In my house that same day, I began texting as many people as I could, asking them about their emotions and if I could provide any service. I began spreading messages of comfort and healing, and as more information began disseminating about the victims, I collaborated with my principal, administrators and other students to plan a vigil. What started as a moment of healing for a small crowd soon escalated to a community event of 10,000 people. People like the mayor, our principal and the Saugus families spoke about the heartbreak we all faced. I was the sole student speaker. Leadership isn’t about how you act in the best of times, but rather how you respond to the worst of times. While I still had to endure the hardships faced after surviving a school shooting, I knew there were those who were afflicted much worse than me, and they needed someone to give them guidance and a sense of purpose once more. This past year, I was elected student body president, and so that became my job. How does one comfort those permanently haunted and utterly traumatized by pain? It’s a question I still grapple with. However, leaders, as I had learned before, don’t need to have all the answers. They simply need to remember two core values: compassion and love. I try to share these sentiments as much as possible and whenever I can. We Saugus Centurions are the most courageous and compassionate people to grace this planet. We are resilient, we are courageous, we are loving, and most of all, we are Saugus Strong.

Andrei Mojica is a student at Saugus High School in the William S. Hart Union High School District

© 2020 Association of California School Administrators

Association of California School Administrators