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Two school shootings in one week. The loss of a student. Tears and prayers are not enough, North Carolina.

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On Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021, we lost a student, William Chavis Raynard Miller Jr., at Mount Tabor High School in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office said, “It is a sad day, but we will get through this together. This family needs your prayers. Our students need your prayers. Our community needs your prayers.”

As the Sheriff left the hospital, he said he cried.

Today we are all Spartans.

The suspect was taken into custody yesterday without incident. Mount Tabor High School was closed on Sept. 2 for students and staff.

Gov. Roy Cooper met with local leaders in Winston-Salem in the morning about the shooting. There was a press conference at 11 a.m.

It is the second time this week there has been a shooting at one of our schools. A 15-year-old student has been charged with shooting another student following a fight on Monday at New Hanover High School.

As the news about these shootings continues to unfold, I ask for your love and support for the family of William Chavis Raynard Miller Jr. The mother asks that we say his name.

I ask for your love and support for the students, the parents, the educators, and the school leaders of Mount Tabor High School and New Hanover High School.

Back in 2018, when I was reporting on the shooting at Butler High School, I learned it isn’t just the students who die that we lose. The student shooters are lost to us too, and their families also grieve.

I ask for your love and support of all of our students and educators who have to summon the courage to go back to school today.

And I ask that you help us thank all of those who work to keep our schools safe day in and day out.

Many worked hard to keep this from happening again. There was a report by the North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission Special Committee on School Shootings. There was a House Select Committee on School Safety. There was a Summit on Student Safety and Wellbeing. There is a Center for Safer Schools and Say Something at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

This week is proof it isn’t enough.

I’m not just worried about physical violence. Recently in Macon County, I visited a K-4 school where two students had attempted suicide. And since the start of this school year, two students in Transylvania County Schools have committed suicide.

These are the worst reminders of why a whole-child approach to learning is our only path forward. Our focus on adverse childhood experiences, trauma-sensitive learning environments, and social-emotional learning must be steadfast — and well-resourced.

In the K-4 school, there will be a full-time mental health professional thanks to federal relief dollars.

EducationNC is a statewide newspaper. We “live” everywhere. Every school is “ours.” What happens at each of them is “personal” to all of us.

Please help us figure out the next steps in working together to end violence at our schools. Help us figure out how to make them the safe spaces they should and need to be, the safe spaces our students and educators deserve.

There is only one measure of our collective work on school violence. It stops.

In his principal’s update for the new school year, Ed Weiss, the principal at Mount Tabor High School, called for “Excellence in Every Endeavor” during this year and beyond.

May we rise to his challenge in our endeavor to restore safety to our schools.


Correction: A previous version of this article listed charges in the Mount Tabor High School shooting. The article has been updated to reflect that a suspect has been arrested and is in custody. No charges had been made public at the time of this article’s publication.

Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.