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Our 9-Year-Old Columnist Reflects on the Tragedy in Texas

By Sienna Beck / New York City

I don’t even know how to describe the terrible shooting in Texas. My mom told me the news and I’m like, you’re kidding. She tells me she’s not, and I stop breathing for multiple seconds.

I have different feelings about this tragedy, and I cannot decide between them. One hand tells me to be relieved I wasn’t there. My second hand tells me to worry about those people who died. I can’t decide. It’s such a dumbfounding notion, you know, that it actually can’t be decided. But my mom says it’s okay to have different feelings about it at the same time.

I still get nightmares about the shooting. Writing about it sends pictures to my mind, and pictures to my mind get so tragic I can’t even describe it. Getting the details more and more every day, the pictures become clearer.

Not all parents tell their children about tragedies like this one. My mom asked me yesterday morning, “Should I tell you things like this?” I said, ‘Yes--though it’s tragic, I don’t want to be hidden from anything or be left out.”

My school is prepared for things like this. We have things called “lockdown drills,” where we go to one corner of the classroom where no one can see us, turn off the lights, lock the door, and close the curtains. So if someone bad is loose in the building, and the loudspeaker shouts either “Light lockdown!” or “Hard lockdown!” we will know what to do (even in the bathroom, believe it or not).

I researched a little bit online on my own about the shooting. I found the names of the 19 kids who were killed (and I bet several more were injured or hurt badly) and two teachers who passed away. Both teachers were in their 40s, and the kids ranged from 9 to 11, basically my own age. That’s scary. Under the name and picture of each kid was a small description. Almost all of them said memorial things like “Eliahna could bring the smile to your face” or “I will always remember Makenna’s smile” that actually made me cry.

The next morning I asked my mom, “What was the gunman’s name?” We looked it up together. He was a “mentally crazy” (mom’s quote) 18-year-old. Now I really want to be president, pass one million laws about guns, littering, assassinating, and all the other threats you can think of and make the world a much better place.


Sienna Beck is a 9-year-old author who loves writing short stories. She goes to a camp called Writopia, and once entered a play contest and was selected to have her play professionally performed by trained actors. Sienna has two sisters, Willa and Olive, and they all go to P.S. 87 in New York City. Sienna likes animals, including pets and mostly dogs. She also wants to be THE PRESIDENT when she grows up.

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