Jackson Township resident Chris Canfield offers us a unique perspective on the tragedy that struck Chardon High School and its town last week. Not only is he a Chardon High School graduate, his ancestors were the town's very first residents, in 1812.
In 1812, my family became the first residents of a barren and wooded Chardon, Ohio.
As school superintendent for many years, my great-uncle Ira Canfield oversaw the building of Chardon High School. Today, the school’s administrative office building bears his name.
The street bearing my family name ends at the rear entrance to the high school. My mother was homecoming queen in that building. My parents were in the first class to attend high school in that same building. My mother was a substitute teacher in that building.
My two sisters and I were born and raised in Chardon and graduated from Chardon High School. I sat in the same cafeteria those innocent children sat in Monday. I waited for the same bus to take me to Auburn Career Center.
The price I paid for talking to another student’s girlfriend was an egg thrown at my face, not a bullet to my head.
My niece, a junior at CHS, was on her way to school Monday when she received fast and furious text messages from friends telling her: “Go back home! The school is on lock-down!” Thankfully, she did. My sister had to pick my nephew up from the locked-down middle school next door.
A WHOLESOME PLACE
Chardon is unique. Reminiscent of a typical New England town. A picturesque community envied and admired for its peaceful, idyllic lifestyle and Norman Rockwell-like wholesomeness.
Today, the world knows about Chardon. Not the Chardon I have described but a Chardon where a student allegedly planned and executed the murder of three students and attempted the murder of two others as they prepared for another day of school.
The unimaginable heartbreak, suffering and pain of all who lost a loved one that day is incomprehensible. The children of three families went to school that day, just like any other, and were murdered. The children of two families went to school that day and were almost murdered.
COLUMBINE STILL EERIE
I’ve been to Columbine, Colo. I remember the eerie feeling as I drove by Columbine High School. As I turned my car around in the driveway of the entrance, the tragedy and senselessness of that day still hung in the air five years later — five years after Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris changed Columbine and the world.
Chardon will be no different. I will go to my high school and pay my respects. I’m afraid it will feel the same as Columbine.
On Feb. 27, T.J. Lane allegedly murdered three, injured two and ruined the lives of the victims’ friends and families forever. On Feb. 27, he changed Chardon forever.
Chris Canfield is a father of four. He lives in Jackson Township with his wife, Belinda, and their three youngest children: Christopher, 17; Veronica, 13; and Conner, 11.