The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

False missile alert leads to real self-reflection

John Kowalski, U.S. Navy
An unarmed Trident II D5 missile launches from the Ohio-class fleet ballistic-missile submarine USS Maryland (SSBN 738) off the coast of Florida.

For 38 minutes of my life, I was mentally preparing myself to die.

On the morning of Jan. 13, a statewide ballistic missile alert was sent out to cell phones across Hawaii.


Although the alert was false, it took 38 minutes for residents and tourists to receive a message that they were safe.

One of those tourists was me.

There are dozens of personal stories circulating the globe that tie in with those 38 minutes; people hysterically called their family members, others were evacuated from their hotel rooms, and some didn’t react at all.

My story could be interpreted as borderline embarrassing as my first thought when receiving word of the missile was: “Man, all of that time spent on college applications for nothing.”

Maybe that was my first thought because I was in a state of denial; I was skeptical about the missile to begin with, but maybe I didn’t want to face the fact that my father and my sisters were all the way across the Pacific, or that I’d never return to California to see my home and the people I love.

On the morning of Jan. 13, residents and tourists in Hawaii received this notification alerting them of a ballistic missile threat.

Either way, my initial reaction to the alert allowed me to further reflect on how I might be prioritizing my life right now, and at first, I was a bit surprised.

In high school, many seniors, and even juniors, constantly face the looming question of what their plans are after graduation. It comes in the form of standardized testing, class curriculums, peer pressure, and more.

And for some of us, college applications.

College applications can be a very important part of senior year; they help students define and understand themselves. They also potentially lead to another life chapter.

That being said, college applications did not define my first semester. Although I worked hard to finish them confidently, I put my health, my hobbies, and my social life first for the majority of the time.

Yet, these applications were my first thought when hearing I could die within the next 15 minutes.

When I first analyzed my reaction, I was angry about how much college ruled my mind. Yes, it’s important, but it doesn’t necessarily define one’s life success. I’d like to think that at some point later in my life, my college experience will become one story among a slew of good times and important memories that I can reflect on.

However, after some time, I was able to understand why college has been such a significant subconscious thought of mine: college really is a big deal to me, at least for right now.

Think of it this way. For the next couple of months, I have the vaguest of frameworks to help me predict how my life will be in a year. I have yet to know where I’ll be living. I don’t know what friends I’ll have. I don’t know how I’m going to feel.

I took several lessons away from my false near-death experience in Hawaii.

I want to treat people as if I may never see them again. I want to pursue my interests while I still can.

And lastly, college is something, but it isn’t everything. As a senior in high school, it’s normal for college to be on my mind a lot of the time; it doesn’t mean that my priorities aren’t straight.

I’m eternally grateful that a missile wasn’t sent to Hawaii, but I’m also somewhat grateful for that false alert.

About the Contributor
Skylar Weiss, Staff Writer
Skylar Weiss is a senior at Carlmont and on the Editorial Staff of its newspaper, The Highlander. She loves going to the beach and playing water polo.

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
False missile alert leads to real self-reflection