Santa Fe study guide: Have mass shootings become part of American culture?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Video summary:

  • Watch the video to learn about the eight students and two teachers who were killed in the school shooting at Santa Fe High School on May 18th, near Houston, Texas.
  • Seventeen-year old suspect Dmitrios Pagourtzis was taken into custody soon after the shooting. Pagourtzis allegedly took his father’s guns out of his closet and used them in the shooting.
  • Then read the Associated Press (AP) story about the circumstances surrounding the shooting and answer the questions below.




Discussion questions:

1. How might learning about the lives of those students and teachers killed in mass shootings affect people’s outlook on school safety and gun violence?

2. Read the excerpt from the AP story above and reply to the questions below.

“The mother of one slain student said her daughter may have been targeted because she rejected advances from Pagourtzis, who was an ex-boyfriend of her daughter’s best friend. Sadie Rodriguez said her 16-year-old daughter, Shana Fisher, repeatedly told him no, and he ‘continued to get more aggressive.’ The week before the shooting, Fisher ‘stood up to him’ by embarrassing him in class, Rodriguez said.”

  • How might high levels of gun violence affect how teenagers interact and stand up for themselves? 

Antonios Pagourtzis, the father of Dmitrios, said he wished he could have prevented the shooting at Santa Fe High School, according to the Associated Press:

“He said he suspects his son was under pressure, perhaps due to bullying. ‘Something must have happened now, this last week,’ he told the station. ‘Somebody probably came and hurt him, and since he was a solid boy, I don’t know what could have happened. I can’t say what happened. All I can say is what I suspect as a father.'”

  • How do schools or parents know when a child is being bullied? What is the school’s responsibility in dealing with incidents of bullying? What about the parents’ responsibility?

3. Several mass shootings have taken place in the U.S. in 2018. Have mass shootings become part of American culture? Explain.

4. Media literacy: As you read, be aware of the word choice used by the author. Notice the word “killed” was used in the first first bullet point above. Another word choice could have been “murdered.” What is the difference between these two words? Is one more appropriate or accurate than the other?

Extension activity:

  • While your students may have seen the Associated Press or AP tag in various news media, they may be unfamiliar with how AP works. Take a look at AP’s description here and ask your students why they think news outlets use AP stories and not just their own.
  • Watch this PBS NewsHour video below. How do the words spoken by student Paige Curry relate to those spoken in the aftermath of the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida?

Visit PBS NewsHour Extra for more education resources designed to help teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories@NewsHourExtra