Tiya Birru: My Grades or My Life

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Y-R Media's Tiya Birru weighs whether to take an important test amid the risk of a rumored school shooting that very day.

A few weeks ago, rumors of a potential school shooting spread at my high school. This came days after the shooting at BayTech Charter School in Oakland.

I’d already been trying to process the tragedy there when I heard the rumors that someone was bringing a gun to campus the next day. I spent that night wondering if I should go to school.

But because I’m a senior in high school, my grades are really important for college admissions. And if I chose to stay home that day, it would mean missing an important exam I wouldn’t be able to make up. So finally, I decided I needed to go.

Walking into school I saw a lot of tension in the air — students kept talking about the rumors spreading, and the longer the day went on the worse the rumors got.

I went into my fourth period class to take one of the hardest tests I would take in the year. And the minute I finished, I got a text from my friend, saying that the shooting would happen at an exact time. I left school immediately as the rumors started up once again.

The issue of gun violence has weighed on me for a long time. In class, I worry—will this be the last time I go to school? The last time I see my mom? The last time I listen to my teacher or talk to my friends?

As a student, I’m tired of hearing my life become a political argument. I’m tired of walking up to school scared that day will be my last, having panic attacks in the morning and distracting myself at my desk with my plans in an emergency.

I want to stop debating what matters more between my grades or my life. That’s not why I go to school.

With a Perspective, I’m Tiya Birru.

Tiya Birru is 17 years old and lives in Oakland. Her Perspective was produced by Y-R Media.