Cate Cunningham, a student at Lexington’s Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, rallied on the state Capitol steps Tuesday with a recent gun threat at her school on her mind.
“It was painful,” Cate said of the situation earlier this month when a fellow student was charged with terroristic threatening. “I felt as if I should have been picking up on warning signs and I felt in danger.”
An estimated 150 students from across the state on Tuesday shared their personal experiences with school shootings, threats, and school safety at the rally on the state Capitol steps and called on policymakers to take action to reduce violence in Kentucky schools .
Just before the the rainy 5 p.m. March For Our Lives Kentucky rally, the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team hosted a Teach-In where students trained other students about activism at the Capitol in Frankfort.
Dozens of incidents involving guns at schools, and threats and rumors of school violence have occurred in Kentucky following a January 23 shooting at Marshall County High in Benton in which two students died and several were injured, allegedly at the hands of a classmate, and a school shooting at Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 on Feb. 14.
Sadie Bograd, a student at Henry Clay High School, said when someone brought a loaded gun to school a few weeks ago she saw how rumors spread throughout the building.
“I realize that not only do we have a problem with people bringing guns to school and gun violence in general, but also with how schools address that issue,” she said.
Te’osha Raglin, a senior at Frederick Douglass High School, where a fellow student accidentally shot himself in the hand, said she feels safe at school but her mother has been upset.
“Finding a gun in school, it definitely keeps you on your toes because when you sit in class, you are wondering whether the person next to you has one,” she said.
Some Kentucky students who rallied Tuesday are attending a national March for Our Lives event in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
Sahar Mohammadzadeh said she is is going to Washington with a group of fellow Kentucky students.
“It’s reached a point where students are afraid because things are just happening to them,” said Sahar, a senior at Dunbar. She said it was frightening for her recently to be scanned with a metal detector wand, although she realized that it was a way to make schools safe.
“I don’t want to leave high school with these being my last memories,” she said.
Allington Bowling, a student at Trinity Christian Academy in Lexington, said she is going to Washington for the march because she thinks in the past “youth have made a difference” and she feels a responsibility to educate her classmates on school safety.
SCAPA Bluegrass teacher Jim Beers, who joined the students at the Prichard voice team group training, said “mental health is huge...giving children a voice is huge, letting them being part of the solution is giant because they are the ones being affected more than anybody and that's going to change the course of who we are,” he said.
Keaton Conner, a Marshall County High junior who was unknowingly trapped in a room with the alleged shooter, said she will join others in her community for a march in Benton Saturday.
“I demand increased funding and training for mental health treatment. I demand security measures at our schools. I demand a ban on assault rifles and large capacity magazines, or any other weapon created for the sole purpose of taking human lives,” she said.
Speakers at the Frankfort rally included students from Marshall, Daviess, Jefferson, Fayette, Boone, and Green counties.
Visit www.marchforourlivesky.org for more information.