Saugus High School student Katie Rey is set to release a song about coping with the events of the school shooting on Nov. 14, the third anniversary of the incident.
Rey was only a freshman at the time of the incident, in which a Saugus student killed two classmates and wounded several others before turning the gun on himself.
That morning Rey and the rest of her jazz group were practicing Christmas songs, before their teacher, Kaytie Holt, had rushed all of the students into her office after hearing a loud bang. Rey was surrounded by approximately 40 of her peers, mostly hidden by their bodies. Holt had turned the lights off and another student had run into the choir room, who was not one of her own.
This student was Addie Koegle, who had just been shot twice. Holt immediately started performing medical services on Koegle and put pressure on both of her wounds.
“My teacher was a complete hero,” said Rey.
Out of fear, Rey stayed put and made sure to hide herself in places where she would not be the first seen. She had always thought if these types of situations happened to her, she would be a hero.
“I think I had a lot of survivor’s guilt from that experience alone,” said Rey.
As 9-1-1 was dialed, Rey wished she was anywhere else.
“All I remember wanting was to be home and safe and just away from the situation entirely,” said Rey.
After finally being picked up by her parents in Central Park, Rey began her journey of trying to work through what had happened to her.
She had originally kept telling herself that she was “OK” and “fine.” Her body was the first response to indicate she wasn’t.
She became very sensitive to light, suffered with vertigo and got very dizzy at given moments.
Fighting through this, she returned to Saugus once the school opened up again.
The school no longer felt like a warm place filled with memories of her beginning her high school career, but rather a cold place where a tragedy occurred.
“You want school to be your second home but it definitely felt like a place where something horrible happened,” said Rey.
Reunited with her choir, they began singing again. For Rey, music healed her in a way no medicine could.
“Music just really became my most important outlet at the time because I felt so much comfort and peace through such a difficult time knowing that music just touched a part of me that nothing else could really reach or be put into words,” said Rey.
The more she sang in choir and acted in theater, she started to feel closer to her goal of coming to terms with what had happened and reaching peace.
This journey of healing is what inspired her to write her song, “Peace.”
“I think these words need to be said,” said Rey. “People at Saugus, or people around the world that have experienced a shooting or gun violence in any area, just really need to hear the fact that they are safe and they’re going to be OK, even when things don’t feel OK.”
Rey wrote this song about her journey and what she experienced, but hopes that it can be a gift to those who are not where she is, mentally. She wants to give back to people the comfort that music brought her.
“I think we live in such a culture that is pressured by depression, anxiety and these horrible feelings,” said Rey. “I really wanted to gift people with a sort of comfort that music can bring, just as it has brought me because it’s what I love doing, but I think it’s also a gift for others.”
“Peace” is set to release on Nov. 14 and will be the second song Rey has released. Her first single was “Every Road I Take,” and is currently available on Spotify.