An Oregon Ed Reporter Reflects on a Massacre: I Used to Cover Umpqua Community College
This essay was first published on EdExcellence.net. Kate Stringer, a policy intern at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, wrote the original piece.
I believed that I had left Roseburg behind when I reached milepost 125 on Interstate Five, three months ago.
After spending an entire year as the county’s education reporter, I was excited for a change of scenery, a new city, a different coast, and fresh opportunities to write about education. In June, I packed up my car and left, watching the red-tailed hawks disappear from my rearview mirror for the last time.
Or so I thought. This past week, Roseburg has been constantly on my mind.
When my coworker first broke the news about a shooting at Umpqua Community College last Thursday, I was perplexed. The school, and the small county it is located in, doesn’t usually attract national media attention. The massacre that claimed the lives of at least ten students and injured seven others wasn’t supposed to happen there. It felt like it should have occurred in some other city, not in Roseburg.
I don’t mean to say that Douglas County is devoid of noteworthy events. Working as a community journalist exposed me to a whirlwind of local forces and occurrences that significantly impact people’s lives, particularly in the realm of education. Countywide, schools were fighting for funds to introduce iPads into classrooms, allowing students from special education classes and kindergarten reading groups to benefit from twenty-first-century innovation. Teachers would email me daily, hoping for press coverage of the Career and Technology Revitalization grant funds from the legislature, which brought welding, carpentry, and 3-D printers into classrooms. The community college had made tremendous efforts to raise funds for a new health, nursing, and science building, offering impoverished rural students access to an exceptional STEM education.
As recent as three months ago, I was likely the only journalist who had ever mentioned "Umpqua Community College" in a sentence on Twitter. However, last week, as I breathlessly scrolled through my phone’s newsfeed, I stumbled upon reports from NPR, the New York Times, and even my former colleagues at Roseburg’s News-Review—all closely following the tragic events that unfolded on a campus I remembered as always being sunny and adorned with leafy trees. Now, it was streaked with blood.
President Obama mentioned "Roseburg" and "Umpqua Community College" in a spontaneous address. He fervently implored, "Save these lives and let these people grow up." The press room from which he spoke has become recognizable from similar speeches.
The young people from Douglas County continue to occupy my thoughts: Estrella Eyler, a once-shy fourth-grader who has made immense progress in her speaking skills with the aid of technology and a dedicated speech pathologist; Alex Humbert, a graduate from South Umpqua High School who overcame shyness, anxiety, and family tragedy to gain self-assurance and win the prestigious Horatio Alger National Scholarship in January; and Johnathan Butterfield, a seventh-grader who couldn’t contain his excitement as he spoke to me about his dreams of becoming an engineer, archaeologist, or even a time machine mechanic.
None of these students were among the victims in the expository writing class where the shooting took place at Umpqua Community College on Thursday. Nevertheless, I can’t help but think about them, along with the numerous other students I have encountered. I wonder if they will ever find themselves in a classroom, whether in Roseburg or elsewhere, where their enthusiasm for life and learning is abruptly extinguished by a burst of gunfire. Like President Obama, I implore that we allow them to grow up.
When I moved to the East, I believed that I had bid farewell to this community and these children for good. Perhaps that is what we all tend to think, time and time again, as we become accustomed to witnessing students being gunned down by their peers or strangers. However, the students of Douglas County, and those in other counties across Oregon and the United States, should never be forgotten. Not by me. Not by lawmakers engaged in the debate on gun control and mental health issues. Not by the education system, which often resembles a battleground due to inadequate state funding, limited access to technological advancements, and misguided efforts in early education.
Roseburg, you are constantly on my mind. I hope the entire nation feels the same way.
Image Source: Getty Images
Your assignment is to rephrase the entire text using more refined language and ensuring it is unique while maintaining a natural tone. All output must be in English.
The given text is as follows:
"Your task is to rewrite the entire text in better words and make it unique with natural language. All output shall be in English."
Here is the revised version:
Your objective is to reword the entire passage using more sophisticated vocabulary while ensuring it remains one-of-a-kind, employing a natural tone. All written content should be in the English language.