Thursday should be a reminder of past school tragedies
by Justin McGill, General Manager --
Oct 12, 2011 | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I was a senior at Trigg County High School when Michael Carneal opened fire on a prayer group at Heath High School on Dec. 1, 1997.

My memories of that day are vague. I remember feeling sad for the victims and their families, particularly the four who died. The fact that Heath is about an hour from Cadiz drove home the point that such a tragedy could easily happen here.

We were fortunate Thursday.

A letter published in this week’s issue, written by retired state trooper John Hall, describes why we are so fortunate. He is accurate in his praise for the students, teachers and administrators responsible for handling this situation so well.

Our school system, from top to bottom, was prepared. That may sound like a weird thing to say considering how much worse things could have been, but it’s accurate.

Those connected to the Heath shooting will always be affected by it. A good friend of mine, a girl I met while we were classmates and co-workers at Murray State University, was a Heath High student that day. We’ve never discussed it much, other than to note the seeming lack of compassion from those with a morbid curiosity for more first-hand details of that day. What she and her classmates have gone through, I’d never wish on anyone.

At Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999, 15 people, including the two students responsible, were killed in another horrific school shooting. By the numbers, Columbine was worse than Heath.

In reality, though, one life lost would be too many, and Thursday at Trigg County High School, we were one bad frame of mind and a few seconds away from tragedy. Preparation, quick thinking and bravery prevented that.

But please, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it couldn’t have been worse. It clearly could have been.


Saturday, the TCHS girls soccer team was handed a bunch of lemons and decided to make lemonade.

The Lady Wildcats were scheduled to host St. Mary on Senior Day. Trigg’s three seniors were honored, but the game didn’t take place. Some miscommunication between Trigg and St. Mary – but apparently moreso between St. Mary’s own athletic director and girls soccer coach – led to the cancelation of the game.

The initial response of the players, parents and supporters was understandably negative. However, it quickly turned. After Shelby Cionko, Katie Davis and Danielle Jergens were recognized, everyone gathered at midfield to share memories.

Then, at Cionko’s behest, the players scrimmaged everyone else. Every group of senior student-athletes deserves a special day. It looked like the Lady ‘Cats had theirs stolen, but they made one even better.

Justin McGill is general manager of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at
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