2010-03-14

The "Gentle" Giant

A friend just asked me about the students who reminded me of potential school shooters. The first one that came to mind was Henry, a huge guy, I'm talking NFL-size, who was in my freshman English class. Henry was all sorts of socially awkward. Between his size and lack of friends, he was pretty scary.

I had thought about referring Henry to the school psychologist to have him analyzed, but I didn't have a concrete reason until I received his how-to essay. (How-to essays are a ninth grade staple; remember this monstrosity about making paper airplanes?) It had nothing to do with the quality of the writing - poor overall, but on par with his peers, unfortunately - and everything to do with the content. The essay starts out fine, at first I thought it was rather responsible of him to choose a topic that could aid in his future. Oh wait, no, he's just thinking of killing people. It's a How-To essay, not a What-Not-To-Do essay.

Click on the essay to enlarge:


I mean, sure, Henry was saying "not" to sell drugs, kill people, run from the police, etc, but with each additional detail, it's like, damn, you've given this a lot of thought, huh? So I gave it to the psychologist, who agreed that it set off some red flags. A week later, I got an email from the psychologist who said that everything checked out with the kid and I had nothing to worry about. Since it wasn't my area of expertise, I dropped the issue, but I was little extra scared of Henry since he must have now known that I reported him because of the essay. He never said a word, though, (eerily, he rarely ever said a word,) so I decided to envision him as some sort of gentle giant.

That mentality carried me all the way through the end of the school year when Henry went on a violent rampage and literally beat the shit out of someone over a misunderstanding while I tried in vain to restrain him. So much for being a gentle giant.