BB Guns on Campus Spark School Safety Conversations

Tavi Pollard and Margaret Unger

On November 18th and 19th, ball bearing (BB) guns were found in possession of CRLS students on campus. No students were injured and further information has been kept confidential. BB guns are considered weapons under the district’s Rights and Responsibilities Handbook, and these incidents have sparked many discussions and concerns regarding school safety.

Following each incident, Principal Damon Smith sent an email to the CRLS community. The emails explained that the weapons were discovered “while addressing an off-campus matter during lunch,” and that the matter would be reported to the Cambridge Police Department. The second email also stated that the two incidents were unrelated. CRLS student Isabel Macedo ’22 shared her thoughts on the situation with the Register Forum, explaining that it “definitely made me a little more concerned, but not to the extent where it’s really affecting me.”

In response to the incidents, a CRLS staff meeting was held after school on Monday, November 22nd, and Community Meeting (CM) on Wednesday, November 24th was structured around conversation about safety concerns. Additionally, Principal Smith addressed the BB gun incidents, along with other reflections on the first quarter, in a video message that was played during CM. After watching the video, students in CM were asked to fill out a Google form with their own reflections. Some students, however, felt that the school’s communication about the incidents was inadequate. Kabir Shotland ’23 told the Register Forum that he wished CRLS would “inform the students of the incidents more effectively,” and added that the BB gun situation “hasn’t made me feel less safe, but it has made me more conscious about these things.”

[The administration should] inform the students of the incidents more effectively.

— Kabir Shotland '23

The issue, alongside the recent sexual assault walkout, was further discussed during a virtual safety forum held via Zoom on the evening of December 1st, which families were invited to attend. Principal Smith, Vice Principal Robert Tynes, and Family Liaison Gretchen Hardina were present. During the meeting, parents raised questions about why only some incidents, such as the BB guns, were communicated publicly, and why the email notifications did not go into specifics. Principal Smith explained that CRLS communicated publicly about the BB gun situation because many students witnessed it, and that they aim to keep the community aware while still maintaining students’ confidentiality and ensuring that “individual situations are going to be addressed individually.”

Prior to these incidents, the administration had tried to address campus safety by increasing surveillance on and around campus during lunch and transition times. CRLS is continuing to run support groups and peer mediation to foster a safe school environment, as well as collaborating with students and staff to address safety concerns, according to Principal Smith’s email.

Across the country, tensions around school safety have particularly increased following the November 30th shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan. As these issues continue to arise, school administrators nationwide are working toward improving school safety, but many students—including CRLS students—continue to express a desire for more concrete actions. 

The Register Forum reached out to members of the administration for comment, without response. This piece also appears in our December 2021 print edition.