The lights were off and the door was locked in Shreya Mahadevan’s fourth-grade classroom at Johnson Elementary School. Small bodies huddled quietly behind a wall of backpacks—their teacher in tears.
“It was really scary. Petrifying,” says the 9-year-old girl about the lockdown her school was under last October, when a man in nearby Johnson Village was on the run after a reported burglary and sexual assault.
But as she huddled near the backpacks, and then ducked behind a bookshelf for cover, she didn’t know why—she just knew it felt different than the drills she’d been practicing.
“It’s not scary if we’re having a drill,” says Shreya. “It just makes you feel like you know what to do when something happens.”
Pausing for a moment, she corrects herself: “If something happens.”