December 18, 2019
Ninety-five percent of American schools now conduct drills to prepare students for a school shooter. For adults who were out of high school by the time of the 1999 Columbine shooting, this is an unfamiliar phenomenon. We don’t have a clear picture of how the drills are experienced by the children they were designed for.
In this partnership between Slate and The Trace, we spoke to more than 20 students from different parts of the country, to learn what they see, hear, and feel during what has become a routine experience in American schools.
We turned those experiences into an audio story you can listen to in the audio player just below, or on your preferred podcast app. You can also scroll further to read and hear selections from the kids we spoke to, kindergartners and high school seniors alike, as they describe how these drills frighten and bore, annoy and perplex. Every school performs the drills in a different way, and every child experiences them alone. But even the younger students know better than we might expect what the drills are for. Here are their stories.