Oshkosh Superintendent: "Each day we are getting stronger"

Published: Jan. 7, 2020 at 6:26 PM CST
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“For our students we are happy to say that things are starting to get back into that normal routine for them,” said Dr, Vickie Cartwright, Superintendent of Oshkosh Area School District.

It’s been a little over a month since the school resource officer-involved shooting at Oshkosh West High School.

Sixteen-year-old Grant Fuhrman is being charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide after court documents say Fuhrman "attempted to cause the death of Mike Wissink, with intent to kill that person." The complaint states Fuhrman used a pronged barbecue fork to stab Officer Wissink several times and he expected Wissink to be unable to fight back. However, Wissink used his gun to shoot Fuhrman once and stop the attack.

That gunshot caused panic among students and staff. Many running out of the building for cover, others hiding in the school.

Since it’s been about a month since the incident, Action 2 News checked in with the school superintendent who says it’s been a process, but students and staff are back to a normal routine.

Dr. Cartwright said what her students and staff experienced on December 3 was certainly traumatic.

“The reason this was traumatic is because there was so much uncertainty and people didn’t really know what was happening at the time,” said Dr. Cartwright.

Understanding that each student's experience was different, whether they ran for safety or hid in the school, helped Dr. Cartwright realize that each student's reaction to the trauma would also be different.

“How students and adults react to that is going to be personal and individual. So you can never plan for each individual reaction that can occur… but its ensuring you have the right resources in place and that is how we were able to plan, not knowing what those specifics may have been, but ensuring we had the right resources to respond to those specific instances,” said Dr. Cartwright.

Cartwright says the district started by equipping those who work with students on a more personal level every day, like teachers and staff members, with the time and tools needed to cope.

“For some of them it was helping students process through the event by having conversations in the classroom. For some it was ensuring that students who wanted or needed to talk it over with a counselor, could do that,” said Cartwright.

For others it was comfort in a therapy dog or having a nice breakfast donated by community partners. Cartwright said everything they did that first week back at school helped build trust and get back to business.

“The business of teaching and learning and that is something we are thankful for 36:09 //36:13 we really attribute that to the community as a whole,” said Dr. Cartwright.

But like a true educator, she said there are always lessons to be learned and the district is already looking at improvements.

“We are taking a look at our reunification process,” said Dr. Cartwright.

She said the district isn’t only looking at improvements based on the most recent incident at Oshkosh West, where it took some parents and students hours to reunite, but improvements district wide. She said the school board is even looking at facility needs to increase safety and security at all schools.

While Officer Wissink continues to recover from his injuries, Dr. Cartwright said they do have a resource officer filling in for the time being.

“Each day we are getting stronger, we are supporting one another,” said Dr. Cartwright. “As a district, we are incredibly proud of our staff members and the roles they take on to support our students and make sure they feel safe and secure.”

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