Parents at a North Carolina school are upset after a staff member came to classes dressed up as an armed robber last week.
The staff member’s aim was to teach children about being more aware of their surroundings, according to local news outlet WRAL-TV. As part of the lesson, the Eastern Wayne Middle School employee wore a ski mask and carried a toy gun that he pointed around sixth-grade classrooms.
After some children were upset by the lesson, the school principal sent out a letter to parents. The note, obtained by local outlet WTVD-TV, reads in part:
As part of an enrichment lesson on exhibiting good citizenship ... another staff member entered the sixth grade classrooms and pretended to steal and item while dressed in a ski-mask and holding a toy pistol. Even though play-acting caused some initial concerns, once the skit was completed, the teachers quickly explained who the person was and that the ‘theft’ was not real. Students were then asked to discuss what they observed.
District Public Information Officer Ken Derksen also explained that the lesson could have handled more considerately, especially amid recent school shootings. "The exercise in its original intent was appropriate, but in how it was executed it obviously lacked judgment," Derksen told the outlet.
Both liberal and conservative blogs around the Web have responded to reports of the incident unsympathetically. Leftist blog Progressive Populist called the incident "galactically stupid!" while The Daily Caller referred to the school as "insane."
Still, not everyone thought the lesson was poorly executed.
"In my opinion, I think the realistic events -- of course I have a military background -- so the more realistic you can make it, the better it seems," Joe Collins, the uncle of a student at Eastern Wayne Middle School, told WTVD-TV.
Last December, a New York City public school principal staged a school shooting as part of a drill without informing students or teachers. A teacher who was present for the simulation said “it was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life," according to the New York Times.