Reflecting back on the shooting that left three students dead and five injured at Michigan State University on Feb. 13 a month ago, high school senior Nick Chenault is adjusting to his environment and emotions after the tragedy.
Chenault describes his emotions during the traumatic event at MSU. Chenault said that he lives close to campus and was playing soccer with his friends downtown 30 minutes before the shooting. The first two weeks after the tragedy, Chenault said that he’s mostly taking it day by day regarding his emotional state.
“Just realizing that 30 minutes later could have been me or one of my buddies, so that was a little nerve wracking,” Chenault said.
Chenault has an older sibling who is a senior at MSU and lives close to campus as well.
“A lot of different emotions went through my head, but now it’s more like I’ve got over it [the shooting] a little bit more,” Chenault said.
Chenault said that even though the shooting has happened, he feels that East Lansing is a safe town to live and MSU students, including his sister, are in a safe town.
“We’ve never really had some tragedy or insane shooting like that happened before and since then, I’m sure there hasn’t been a lot of commotion or a lot of fights or things going [on] downtown so I feel like that’s good,” Chenault said. “I feel like the safety has progressed and gotten better.”
Not only had Chenault dealt with hearing a college campus close to him were in danger, he has also expressed that he was stressed about the safety within his own high school.
Chenault said ever since his high school had gotten threats, the school’s safety has been enhanced by having more security guards. He also said the first couple of days after, he was a little nervous about going back into his school.
“Well at East Lansing, about a few weeks prior to that, we had some issues of our own safety concerns of guns at the school and threats towards our school,” Chenault said,
At East Lansing High School, where Chenault attends, staff has helped students through this stressful time. Chenault said because of the separate threats his high school was receiving, his school already has resources around the school.
“We have a support dog, which is kind of useful because I love dogs and the administration is having open arms about being able to help us,” Chenault said.
The teachers at East Lansing High School supported their students having a peaceful walkout protest about the safety issues in their school. Chenault said that he enjoyed participating in supporting his class, where he spoke.
“So we had our school room meeting which-we had one in this conference room where it’s open to the public as it usually is, but it was filled with people out the doors and many people talking,” Chenault said. “I got up and spoke about safety issues and stuff like that…during the walkout, I think almost, I would say about 70-80% of the student body came out.”
“I feel like it kind of helped get our final message across,” Chenault said.
Chenault recalled the support he received from his parents and said it really helped him.
“I think my parents were probably some of the biggest supporters,” Chenault said. He then discussed his parents’ emotions during the shooting.
Chenault and his father stayed calm while they all tried to get in contact with his sister. His mother then made sure that her son was okay while processing his emotions.
“When it first happened my mom was very nervous and just because she didn’t know where my sister was at the time,” Chenault said. “ We didin’t really know, there was a lot of misinformation going around.”
Chenault then gives some advice for those who are still anxious in their surroundings. One method he believes is not helpful, hiding your emotions and just putting a smile on your face.
“I figured out that’s not the best way to cope and having someone that you can talk to; a friend, or a teacher or anybody really helps because they can help you process and stuff like that,” Chenault said. “Also finding some sort of habit or something you like, probably [going] outside so you can get some vitamin D and fresh air things like that.”
Nick Chenault believes that you have to stay positive and spread positivity during these hard times.