Glass Half Full: This world is full of surprises |

Glass Half Full: This world is full of surprises

Ruth Glass

Soapbox warning! While I try not to get “preachy” about too many subjects, occasionally there are situations about which I feel incredibly passionate. Screaming — or more accurately, not screaming — is one of them.

In a world that includes distressingly frequent reports of true crisis events, all of us take seriously the responsibility we share to keep our children as safe as possible.

Incline Village does a great deal to maintain both security and sanctuary. In light of school campus crises around the country, Lake Tahoe School has spent considerable time over the course of the last few months updating our lockdown procedure.

I am confident that all the schools in Incline have done the same. As we are all aware, if any of us are ever confronted by the need for a real lock down, absolute quiet will be essential.

One of our primary goals, a educational institutions, is to help children prepare for the world at large. I recall a situation, years ago, when my family and I were at a dinner theater production of “Oliver,” when the fire alarm went off.

The children, on stage and off, were the ones who knew precisely how to exit the building quickly and quietly. It was clear that the fire drills at school prepared them for any contingency.

The world is full of surprises. We can never entirely predict just what might happen — especially the things we hope will never happen.

What we can do is help children learn to think about choices in an emergency and how important it is to listen to the adults in charge. We ask, during drills, that students move quickly and quietly, without asking questions.

I was raised in a family in which screaming simply was not allowed. We could yell; we could holler; we could even squeal. But that high pitched, ear-shattering screech that I often hear, even in restaurants, much less playgrounds, was verboten.

The rationale was clear, something that my friends and I could understand even as children. There had to be a point at which adults would know how to recognize a true emergency. There could be no crying wolf in a genuine crisis.

I’m not sure when screaming among children and teenagers became popular. I admit that it drives me crazy — because it worries me.

It’s too easy to dismiss children who are screaming because such a sound is too often the norm. I worry about potential situations when absolute quiet might be essential, when children must recognize their ability to listen, rather to express themselves, might make all the difference.

Unless we have those discussions with our children; unless we are clear about all the components that contribute to a safe and secure environment, it’s as if we forgot to remind our children to fasten their seatbelts.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at

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