By Shellie Miller
When the devastating loss of his daughter Meadow, 18, impacted Andrew Pollack and his family this past Valentines Day, he quickly channeled his grief into action. One of the first families to meet face to face with President Trump soon after the shooting at MSD, Andrew’s passionate voice has now been heard throughout the world. “I’m pissed!” he said fervently.
It’s evident that Andrew doesn’t mince words or hide his feelings about issues of importance. His strength and determination are made clear in every statement. “Our children and teachers need to know that when they go into the classroom they’re going to be learning or teaching. Right now, they have anxiety and shouldn’t be worrying about their own safety! You don’t worry about it when you go on a plane, or into a federal building, into a courthouse or into a stadium. Our kids, who are our most precious asset; we leave them vulnerable for anyone to come into a building and just shoot them.“
Andrew feels strongly that if there was financial value to school safety, more would be done. He tells us, “There’s no urgency across the country because there’s no monetary value involved when our kids get murdered.” He goes on to give examples that elucidate his viewpoint. “For instance, if you shut down all the planes in the country there are billions of dollars lost. If you shut down the courthouses because of shootings, there would be millions of dollars at stake. It’s the same with the NFL. If this happened at a stadium and people didn’t go to games and they couldn’t be televised and the teams couldn’t play, there is a billion dollar industry. These are big corporations earning money!” He puts a period on his point by saying, “So when our children are murdered, nobody loses any money… that’s the problem.“
With people all over the world watching and supporting his mission, Andrew shares with firm conviction, “My goal is to bring school safety to every school in the country. I’m putting every governor on notice! There are a lot of incompetent people looking after our children. I’m not happy about that,” he says resolutely.
As he moves forward in his work to influence national, state and local governments, Andrew vows to make his life’s focus about turning our schools into safer places for our children. “I want to make MSD into the model for Florida and then will be responsible for every school in the state and every school board throughout our nation.” This highly motivated father wants to be sure that no other parent loses a child in an unsafe school environment.
Recently appointed to the committee for Safety Bill 7026, Andrew says he is glad to be part of a group that will take action and create real preventative measures to make our schools safer. “What I want to convey is that everyone should be focused on one thing … making our schools safe.“ Concerned about accountability once hardening our schools is underway, Andrew has begun a not-for-profit organization called CLASS – Children’s Lives And School Safety. “Let’s say you are moving to another place. Just like you are now able to look up a school’s scholastic test scores, what we are going to do is, you’re going to go onto our CLASS website and see a rating for security for each school.” Excited to implement a tool that will be utilized and make a difference for families throughout the US, Andrew describes, “If you’re going somewhere and you want to look up ‘XYZ School,’ you’ll be able to go on our website and we’ll have a rating for security. You’ll see if they have metal detectors, how many SROs are there, whether or not we were able to walk in during the day. That will be part of our organization.“
As he works to make changes throughout our country, Andrew and his family, including wife Julie and sons Huck, 22 and Hunter, 20, are announcing a new project, Meadow’s Playground. Andrew says, “I had a vision of a spectacular park where the kids in the community could play and feel safe. Instead of sitting in a cemetery, I could go and relax there and watch the kids like I used to watch Meadow when she was young.” As a little girl, Meadow’s favorite activities at the playground were on the swings and slides. As he reflects on happy memories with his only daughter, this dad says, “She was my baby… she was so beautiful.“