KSU students with ties to Chardon react to tragedy

Caitlyn Callahan

Several Kent State students who graduated from Chardon High School were astounded to hear that their school had been the site of a shooting Monday morning. Some of these students have siblings who still attend Chardon, while others have parents who work in the building. The general consensus among the students seemed to be a reaction of pure shock that their small, close-knit community could fall victim to such violence.

Danielle Malone, sophomore English major: (she had siblings and family at Chardon this morning) “I have a little brother who is a freshman and his name is Joey as well as three cousins Leah, sophomore, Drew, senior, and Andrew, also a senior. Drew was chased down the hallway by the gunman. The gunman then ran out of the school and down towards our local pool and then he ran to Route 6 where he was picked up by police. I woke up to 8 missed calls this morning and was told by my sorority sister to call my mom because there was a shooting at my old high school. I called my home and spoke to my brother and he assured me that all of our family members were safe. Once I hung up with my brother, I was genuinely shocked by the shooting. I started to shake and couldn’t stop crying. Chardon is a picturesque small town. It’s a town where people don’t even lock their doors — the last place I would have ever thought anything like this would occur.”

Malone said she canceled a doctor’s appointment today, and she doesn’t have Monday classes. “I stayed glued to the TV and social media sites to get updates from high school friends and teachers,” she said. She also said she is driving back to Chardon tomorrow for the vigil there.

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Savannah Robertson, freshman integrated science major: (she attended Chardon and both of her parents work there) “It was a horrible way to wake up, I had a text from one of my friends saying Chardon had a shooting. From there I pretty much broke down with worry for my parents and the fact I could have lost one of them. My dad is a science teacher, and my mom is an intervention specialist. I was just in shock because Chardon is the last place I would have ever thought this would happen. I still haven’t talked with my parents because they are still getting everything under control and getting debriefed. I’m really just still in shock and I haven’t turned off the news and it’s just weird seeing their faces and names on the news because I know them. I’m very proud of all the students banding together and showing how strong our school is through a time like this.”

Robertson said she had one class today at 9:55 which she was planning to go to, but she was so glued to the news that she accidentally missed it. “I was glued to the TV till 1:00 and then I realized I have midterms and a 5-page paper due, so I had to snap back into reality. I keep checking back on Facebook to see if anything new has happened and it’s nice to see the increased support between students and graduated students. I wish I could go home but I have early classes tomorrow and projects I need to do, so unfortunately I’ll be staying here and hoping my prayers get to the students and the families.”

Tara Marthe, sophomore psychology major: (attended and had siblings there) – “Obviously these events are beyond upsetting, and terrifying actually. I never thought that something like this could have happened there. I’m just very thankful to all of the teachers and faculty for their brave and competent actions and happy that my brothers got out today, to be honest.”

Bryan Haag, junior information design major: (attended Chardon) – “I found out this morning through the local news and Facebook. It almost feels surreal that this happened at my high school. Mad or upset wouldn’t be the best words, but speechless comes pretty close. I have friends that are still in high school and they were keeping me updated throughout the morning. It really hits you hard when you knew your high school as this peaceful place and then this happens and you know it will just skew how everyone will view it from now on.”

Kelly McCaffery, freshman visual communication design major: (attended Chardon) – “It’s hard to believe something like that could happen in such a small town. Literally everyone knows each other, we all know each other’s business, and for the most part everyone’s there for each other. Even though he didn’t get that chance to experience it, it’s hard to believe he was so down in the dumps and went to such great lengths. Why would Chardon of all places have a shooting?” She said she found out when her roommate told her she saw it on Facebook, and then her phone had several texts about a shooting at Chardon.

She had two classes today that she went to as usual. “During my classes I was on Facebook, and it was really hard for me to concentrate. I just kept hearing all these different things.” She said according to one story, her old math teacher Mr. Ritchie ran the shooter out of the school. She said she is going to the vigil tomorrow at St. Mary’s.

Caroline Boetger, sophomore photo illustration major: (attended Chardon) – “I follow 19 Action News on Twitter. I woke up shortly after the shooting happened and saw a tweet from 19 action news saying “Possible Shooting at Chardon High School.” This was before any information had been put out, and it hadn’t been confirmed yet. So it was the first thing I woke up to, and I was so worried and wanting more details. I was freaking out and calling my friends to make sure their families were OK. I ended up going to class to try and distract myself. I was (and still am) completely shocked. I’m not the type of person who pretends things like this don’t happen, but I never thought a shooting would occur in Chardon. We’re a small, tight-knit city and serious violence isn’t something we deal with a lot. It’s heartbreaking but I’m proud of my hometown for coming together so strongly to face such a tragedy.”

Many students used Facebook and Twitter to send thoughts and prayers to families and friends in Chardon. The Kent State chapter of To Write Love On Her Arms is holding a candlelight vigil Wednesday at 7:30 in Risman Plaza for the families and students of Chardon.

Contact Caitlyn Callahan at [email protected].