Teachers include actor Alec Baldwin shooting in lesson plans

   In the aftermath of the fatal shooting on the set of upcoming film Rust, teachers are incorporating the real-life event into their classrooms.

    On October 21, 2021, Alec Baldwin discharged a prop firearm while filming on the set of Rust. Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza were both struck by projectiles from the firearm. Hutchins was taken by helicopter to the University of New Mexico Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Souza was taken by ambulance to CHRISTUS St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, from which he was later released. 

   While not every class is meant to be inclusive of current happenings, there are some that touch on such issues. 

   “I, usually, will do it as a bellringer,” said Mr. Jeffrey Barabasz, who teaches Introduction to Criminal Justice and Crime Scene Investigation classes. “I like starting my classes with something current that’s going on, and it doesn’t get more current than this.”

   Mr. Barabasz is a former Rockford Police Officer and was a member of the police force for 25 years. His experience as a police officer gives him a unique perspective on the incident.

   “Just because he [Alec Baldwin] was the one who pulled the trigger, does not necessarily mean he was the one at fault,” said Mr. Barabasz. “Him, being the big actor, he should be able to trust the people that were giving him the weapon.”

   Ms. Sarah Verona teaches Technical Theatre, and believes that the stresses surrounding the incident were its cause.

   “You can only be pushed so far, for so long, in different ways and circumstances,” said Ms. Verona. “I could definitely see that being the case with the Alec Baldwin situation.”

   While the theatre department may not be dealing with live ammunition, they still have many safety precautions as they work on productions. Ms. Verona covers the different precautions necessary for students who will be working with scenery, ladders, power tools, lighting, and the catwalk above the auditorium.

   “Anytime there’s the elements where you could fall, you could get hurt, you could cut something,” said Ms. Verona. “We definitely want students to be prepared so those circumstances don’t happen.”

   Instead of theatre safety, Mr. Barabasz talks about gun safety with his students.

   “One of my students actually said, ‘You never pull the trigger, or you never have your finger on the trigger unless you plan on using it.’ She is absolutely right… but kids don’t know that,” said Mr. Barabasz. “That’s one of the other things to educate is, if you come across a gun, don’t play with it because you don’t know if it’s real or not.”

   Mr. Barabasz does not shy away from sensitive situations, such as this one, and instead tries to “keep it real” in his classroom. 

   “If someone brings it up, we’ll always talk about it. I mean, that’s the thing about my class, which is cool,” said Mr. Barabasz. “If somebody brings up a real issue, I have no problem talking about it.”

   Regardless of the classes they teach, both Ms. Verona and Mr. Barabasz educate their students about the safety precautions, among other skills, necessary to succeed in their classes, as well as in the world. 

   “Theatre is all about people, and sharing with people, and educating people,” said Ms. Verona. “I don’t think that’s just reserved for the acting end. I think it can fit in the tech theatre end as well.”