Millikan High used as the location for disturbing school violence video

Your essential back-to-school shopping list in this age—when more students have been shot or shot at than have taken Intro to Algebra—contains tools for survival as much as for learning.

New kicks are perfect for sprinting away from peril, scissors for crafts and sharp No. 2 pencils for Scantron forms can also be plunged into the neck of an attacker. Gym socks? A tourniquet to prevent a fellow student from bleeding out. The skateboard that gets you to school can be used to shatter windows for escape.

And your smart phone that students use ceaselessly throughout their days, is ideal for sending one final “I love you” message to Mom while hiding in a bathroom stall as an intruder’s footsteps menacingly approach.

The ad is dark and disturbing, and perhaps a bit more so for parents of students at Millikan High School, where the video was filmed on Aug. 10 and 11 during the summer break.

The alarming twist on the “Back-to-School Essentials” Public Service Ad was made by the commercial, film, TV, and music video production company Smuggler for Sandy Hook Promise, whose mission is to create a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence and other harmful acts in schools.

“All the people in the video are actors,” said Ron Hoppe, Long Beach Unified School District’s purchasing and contracts director, who approves filming in the district’s schools. But the message is despairingly real-life.

The PSA is this year’s video in the Sandy Hook Promise’s series of anti-violence spots that the group releases annually. It promotes “Know the Signs,” a campaign aimed at teaching students and school staff how to recognize and intervene when someone shows warning signs of behavior that could lead to shootings or other forms of violence in schools. In 2018, America suffered through 110 school shootings, with 61 deaths.

Sandy Hook Promise is a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.