HARRISBURG, S.D. (KELO) — The news on Tuesday of a deadly school shooting in Texas that took the lives of at least 19 kids weighs heavily. Wendy Otheim, director of special services with the Brandon Valley School District, and Samantha Hettinger, a ninth grade teacher in the Harrisburg School District, each shared their thoughts with KELOLAND News. Both are parents, too.
“It’s really hard. It’s really scary,” Hettinger said. “I’ve been talking to other parents, friends of mine who have kids in the school system or are about to enter the school system, and it’s really hard to know what to do because we know our kids need to be at schools and having worked in a school, we try to make it as safe as possible, but we know that we can’t always protect our kids from absolutely everything.”
“I’m a mom of three kids, they’re all grown now, but they went through the public school system, and when you send your kids off, you’re thinking they’re going to be safe so it’s heartbreaking to see that today,” Otheim said.
A person doesn’t have to be an educator, parent or student to be emotionally impacted by a school shooting; they just have to be a person. You don’t have to be in Texas to feel down about it.
“Brandon Valley is lucky to be adding an additional school psychologist next year, so we’re going from three psychologists to four, which we’re thrilled about because this will free up some time with those professionals to offer some support to kids,” Otheim said.
“I think anybody can start a conversation, everybody has a voice and everybody can save a life,” Hettinger said. “If it’s a matter of reaching out to someone you think is struggling, if it’s talking to a trusted family member or friend, if you’re a kid talking to an adult that you think can help you out.”
Hettinger is a volunteer with the South Dakota chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.