Student paper details shooting

By: 
Scott Girard

The Verona Area High School student who was removed from the school last month had written a 13-page essay that ended with a school shooting, a police report shows.

Verona Area School District administrators sent a letter home to VAHS parents Jan. 28 alerting them to the threat, and informing parents that the student would not return to the school.

“Rest assured that we treat these matters seriously and that we will continue to keep you informed within the bounds of the law,” VAHS principal Pam Hammen wrote.

Administrators did not release any more information at the time, but according to the police report on the incident:

The 17-year-old male senior had written a 13-page paper for his final assignment in a creative writing class, which was first read by his teacher on Jan. 14 and immediately reported to VAHS administrators.

The paper included references to people at the school, whose names were either not changed or only slightly changed and still recognizable, and ended with a shooting incident.

Throughout the paper, the student described experiences he admitted were personal to him. However, he maintained that the response of the “fictional character” in his paper was not how he had reacted or how he would ever react.

“(The student) stated…he always chose to respond to things that upset him by trying to take leadership roles and make positive change rather than the way his character dealt with them,” the report reads.

The student told Hammen and police that he was feeling “less important and less valuable” during his senior year, and that he used his writing as an outlet for stress.

When Hammen asked the student directly if he would bring a gun to school or shoot anyone, the student said “no” to both.

Officials brought in the student’s parents, who were unhappy with the behavior and “inappropriate” writing. The father also stated he had two guns at home he used for hunting, but that they were locked up and the son did not know they were in their home.

The student’s creative writing teacher said the story “was the most disturbing piece of writing she had received over the past eleven years of teaching creative writing classes at the high school level.” She expressed concern for her own safety, as well, if the student were allowed to return to the school.

The teacher also cited the student’s Twitter page, which included negative posts about Verona and his acceptance at the school.

Witnesses who had peer-reviewed his paper or were his friends stated that the student felt he was discriminated against due to his race and sexual orientation, though none of them reported witnessing any of the bullying he described to them at times.

The case was closed after a Jan. 28 meeting at City Hall between the student, his parents and Hammen.

Channel3000 obtained a copy of the essay, but the Verona Police Department did not provide it to them or the Verona Press. The department cited privacy laws that protect minors in not providing the essay.

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