Queens Students Speak Out On Colorado Carnage

As authorities were investigating last week’s bloody shooting and bomb rampage in Littleton, Colorado’s Columbine High School, ninth through twelfth graders here in Queens shared some of their feelings and thoughts about the bizarre massacre which left 13 dead and countless others physically and emotionally scarred for life.
"It’s really sad," said 14-year-old Sabrina Smith, a freshman at Long Island City High School as she clutched her book-filled back pack while standing on the steps of the building last Thursday afternoon.
"All those people were killed and for what ?" Smith asked adding the question "just because it was Hitler’s birthday?"
But Smith contended that although the Colorado gunmen––18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold — entered Columbine High School with relative ease it would be difficult for a weapon toting student to enter Long Island City High with any type of destructive device.
"Here we have security and out there they don’t" argued Smith who claimed that incidents like the ones that took place in Colorado and Jonesboro, Arkansas are part of a rising trend plaguing unwitting residents of rural America
"Every one in the country thinks that something like this would happen only in the city but look at what’s happening," she said.
Another Long Island City student, a 15-year-old sophomore who wished only to be identified as Gustavo, agreed that getting into school with a gun would not be easy.
"We have two real cops in school," said Gustavo claiming that the guards "hassle you if wear a hat to school."
"I don’t think that could happen here, those kids (Harris and Klebold) were born evil. They were always bad." he commented.
"I think what happened is a case of bad parenting," Gustavo theorized. "But even when my parents aren’t at home, it doesn’t make me want go out and kill people," he said.
Overhearing Gustavo’s comments, another student standing on Long Island City High’s steps, who wished to be identified only as Kris, said that out of all the factors that may have motivated the Rocky mountain killers the industrial rock music they listened to probably had the least effect.
"My sister listens to death metal, and I listen to it to sometimes but neither of us go out killing people," said Kris.
Jumping back into the conversation, Gustavo added, "Yeah, if anything hip-hop is worse, those kids should have been able to distinguish fantasy from reality."
At Bayside High School, where students hang out after school and play frisbee in the park directly across the street from the front entrance, students felt safe but cautious the day after the horrific shootings in Littleton.
"It’s safe in Bayside High," said 17-year-old junior Jonathan Cordero while waiting for his bus, "but you can never be too sure."
"The people you think are most sane could be the most insane," he said, " but its pretty safe for now."
"I was shocked when I heard about it but I wasn’t too surprised," said Sharon Choi, a 17-year-old Bayside High junior who feels safe in class but said "in the hallways, something could happen."
Choi felt that "the killers had to do something like this to get known and blaming any particular groups wouldn’t be fair to do."
"You can’t blame Goths," she said referring to the enigmatic, subculture noted for celebrating dark music, literature and clothing — a group the Columbine gunmen were alleged to be a part of.
"I know a lot of Goths and many are nice people, they aren’t as out there as the media portrays, and you can’t blame the parents," said Choi.
"I was surprised to see what occurred and I think it was because they (Harris and Klebold) were influenced by the media."said Jenny Lee, a 16 year-old Bayside High junior.
Explaining that "what’s on T.V. and what’s in the newspaper influences other kids to do the same things," Lee stressed that both forms of media could have influenced Harris and Klebold’s way of thinking.
"These things only happen in the country, anyway. Bayside (High School) is good and New York City has a good security system," Lee pointed out adding that she saw police officers at Bayside escorting a young man out of the school in handcuffs earlier that day.
"We are on heightened alert," said David Galarze, a spokesperson for the New York City Board of Education.
According to Galarze police officers have been advised to be diligent in their duties and school safety officers have increased patrols around Queens high and junior high schools at arrival and dismissal.
We have advised officers to "employ a high level of scrutiny," with regards to security concerns added Galarze
"We don’t want to take any chances," he said adding that police officers can be found in schools in Queens but not every one.
Extra patrols and programs like the "Student Safety Committee"(SSC) at Hillcrest High School fueled a feeling of confidence with some students that an incident like the one in the Rockies was unlikely to happen in Queens.
"We’re prepared," said 17 year-old Gopaul Prabhudyal, a sophomore who is the student captain of Hillcrest’s student safety group.
Prabhudyal explained that the SSC links students up with security officers in an effort to keep security personnel alert to possible threats on campus.
"It’s not like being a snitch, he said "but if a student was in danger or if someone came to school with a switchblade or something we would report it."
Altogether 22 students take part in the Hillcrest program and according to Prabhudyal the number of school incidents has been on the decline.
"When I first started, kids from other schools would come through the back door, but now it no longer happens," he said.
"Having students like him here makes the school a safer environment," said Hillcrest principal Steve Duch.
Duch claimed that the students who participate in the SSC program are actually the "eyes and ears of the school," and always know about the potential problems in school before anyone else.
"We have three extra officers here," said Prabhudyal who said he’s concerned about the Columbine massacre.
"But I don’t think there’s a chance of it happening here" he said.

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