Staff Editorial: Holding William Miller Jr. in the light

To them, our desks are shields, our pencils weapons and our lockers potential hiding spots. 

 “Make sure to stay away from windows,” they tell us. “Follow all our instructions and stay silent—maybe you’ll live.”

Since grade school, millions of American schoolchildren are drilled to defend themselves in an active shooter situation. Marching us out in single-file lines, showing us the emergency exits in every classroom and giving us bulletproof cabinets to hide behind before we learn long division, the American education system prepares us for the worst possible scenario from as early as age 5. As parents watch their children become statistics in their worst nightmare, so many of us learn another method of defense in the face of disasterbecoming numb to the pain of these events. 

We as a society have become accustomed to swiping left on a school shooting news notification without a second thought to get to our social media. We switch the channel in discomfort when CNN breaks a shooting story, and scroll past posts that attempt to spread the word on these types of events. Grasping at an illusion of comfort and emotional security, we claim to know of Parkland, Sandy Hook and Columbine without being able to name any of those injured or killed by these events.

Even when a shooting occurred in such close proximity to us on Sept. 1, 2021 at Mount Tabor High School, why are we as a society still so numb that so many of us don’t even know the name of the boy killed in the shooting?

His name was William Miller Jr., a 15-year-old brother of five siblings and friend of many. Born on Nov. 2, 2005, he was an outgoing, loving and caring child known for his bright smile before he was faced with tragedy. 

“I watched him brush his teeth,” said Shannon Clark, William’s mother, in an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal. “I watched him comb his hair. I heard him put his shoes on, as he was going down the hall I (saw) the side of his face and when he walked out the side door that was it.” 

William Miller Jr. wasn’t the only Mount Tabor student tragically impacted by the shooting. The events of Sept. 1 punched a hole in the lives of many of the family and friends of the Mount Tabor student body.

“My best friend’s little sister was there that day,” said Irma Nelson, an eyewitness of the havoc the shooting caused on the surrounding community, in a personal interview. “Thinking that could have been her just shook me for so long. (It) terrified her whole family more than anything it could have done to me.”

At the Guilfordian, the entire staff and editorial board stand with the community members, survivors and victims of Mount Tabor in solidarity, and honor the memory of William Miller Jr. with every story that we write. We continue to encourage those in our own community to deny the culture of numbness around us, and get to know the story of William Miller Jr. and Mount Tabor inside out. 

“I am striving for wisdom and virtue,” state the words upon which our beloved school was founded. In this season of the Guilfordian, we encourage all our readers and writers to have both the wisdom to bring light to the stories unilluminated and the virtue to see the inherent value of humanity through the stories that pass through our newsroom.