“Don’t be afraid to be emotional about this”

Melanie Sudar

It’s not very often that disasters strike in or around Ashland, Ohio. Feb. 27 changed that.

Business seemed usual at Ashland University; classes were being attended, homework was being assigned and projects were being put off. It was almost difficult to tell that earlier that day, a school shooting occurred roughly an hour from Ashland’s campus.

Around 7:30 Monday morning, five students at Chardon High School were shot. Throughout the course of the day, one of the students died from injuries, leaving two students in serious condition and two students in stable conditions. By Tuesday evening, two other students had passed away.

Although the city of Chardon may not have a direct connection to Ashland University, students were still in shock of the events. Junior Austin Arnold graduated from Chardon High School in 2009 and knows a few current seniors. Arnold said he has no connection with any of the students directly involved with the shooting but is still shocked that this happened.

“I was very surprised,” he said. “I thought the whole thing was so surreal.”

Sophomore Jacob McDonald agreed. McDonald has a cousin who is a junior at Chardon and was taken aback when he heard the news.

“This kind of stuff just doesn’t happen in a small town,” he said. McDonald also added that Chardon is a small, quiet town, and then the shooting became a “national crisis.”

Counselor Kerri Carmichael has been at Ashland for three years and is from the Cleveland area. Carmichael agrees with Arnold and McDonald about the shock of the event.

“I think it was very shocking and heartbreaking,” she said. “It was hard to believe it was happening again and right in our own backyard.”

Arnold said that such an event is practically unheard of in Chardon. He said it’s a small town where crime and disasters rarely strike.

“People are going to remember Chardon for this happening but it’s not like this at all,” he said.

Arnold stated the community of Chardon is already strong and Carmichael agreed. She said they have already bonded together well and suggests they continue that bond.

“I think they should really continue to rely on one another for support,” she said. Carmichael also suggested that they take advantage of counseling, as this event is a “gut-wrenching experience.”

For AU students, coping with such an event may be difficult. Although there are only a select few who attended Chardon, the news of the event is still hard to take in. Carmichael advises students to take advantage of the social media by writing on Facebook pages or sending positive words of encouragement.

“Show you care,” she said. She also suggested making phone calls or writing letters.

Arnold said Chardon is still a special place for him and he can’t imagine this type of trauma coming from his hometown.

“Chardon was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said.

Arnold said sympathy cards and flowers can be sent directly to Chardon High School. Carmichael also said all counseling services are open to all students who may want or need them.

“Talk to peers or close friends as well,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to be emotional about this.”