School shootings turning nightmares into realities


Anthony Verbsky. PhotoCo: Megan de Guzman


To Anthony Verbsky, being a teacher means so much more than just helping kids with academics. He knows that he is also a parent, counselor, and friend at HR. Two years ago, he got his own glimpse into yet another responsibility of teachers: student safety.

  Verbsky was teaching his Calc BC class, when another teacher came into the room and told him that there had been a shooting at Arapahoe High School. He left his class unattended and immediately got in his car. “I quick jetted down to Arapahoe,” Verbsky said, “and I was literally there in four minutes.”

 Meanwhile, SWAT was releasing certain classes and telling them to run to a nearby King Soopers. “[Student’s] muscles were sore for days because […] they were almost on a full all-out sprint,” Verbsky said.

  When he arrived at the scene, Verbsky parked close to the school and ran to that same King Soopers. There he found his eighteen-year-old daughter, safe and unharmed. “I’m one of the few parents that got to see their kid right away,” he said.

  According to a study conducted by the FBI, between the years 2000 and 2007, the average number of mass shootings was six a year. Between the years 2008 and 2013, the average was 16 a year. This spike worried both students and teachers who realized the possibility of similar situations in their own school.

  Junior Emma Noverr was aware of the increase in shootings. She has a friend at Arapahoe and understands the need for preparation. “We should have a plan so that we can minimize the devastation,” she said.

  Both students and teachers know that everyone should be better prepared in the event that something might happen at HR. “We can talk about it because we haven’t had a shooter in our school,” Verbsky said. “But if you mention the ‘gun’ word at Arapahoe, you’re gonna’ cause some psychological damage.”

  Teachers at HR and schools throughout the district are going to receive training this year to prepare them for shooting situations Verbsky said. They will soon adopt the mantra: ‘Run, Out of Sight, and Fight.’ Students will continue to be prepared through drills.

  “I don’t know if we as teachers can get personally prepared for what some of the [Arapahoe] teachers actually went through,” Verbsky said. What he does know is that as a teacher, it is his job to do whatever he can to protect his students, from the moment they step off the bus, to the moment they climb back on at the end of the day.

Megan de Guzman, Guest Reporter