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KIPP St. Louis High School students adjust to new campus security measures

The school switched to virtual learning for two weeks to revamp security practices.

ST. LOUIS — A group of seniors at KIPP High School in St. Louis shared their experiences with safety on campus Tuesday.

5 On Your Side was invited inside the building on Jefferson Avenue for an exclusive look.

In October, the school transitioned to virtual learning for a couple of weeks to revamp its security measures. The move followed multiple incidents of weapons that were brought to campus.

Senior Lacora Bell sat around a table with her peers to discuss the upcoming semester that she said was easier to do when students feel safe.

"I feel like people are in line. There's not much that needs to happen. Just the presence of them being here feels secure,” Bell said.

She pointed to more security ambassadors that frequent the halls now to make sure she and her peers can focus.

In the last few months, the public charter school has partnered with a national security team to offer training, revamped arrival and dismissal policies, and added metal detectors.

St. Louis administrators told 5 On Your Side they spent more on security in the last five years.

There are additional cameras and supervision, armed and unarmed officers, mental health services and a safe space to provide students with comfort.

Dalynn Wilson has been in KIPP schools since the seventh grade.

For Wilson, he said the need for more security became clearer after the shooting at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School (CVPA).

"I did see not only 10 officers, but 15 circling around the school and that brought comfort to me as a student," Wilson said.

Wilson started the Dream Mentoring Program to help out with issues internally among his peers.

"I want to make sure that everybody here. Not just males, but also female students get the education that they need to be successful in the classroom but also outside of school,” Wilson also said.

It is this type of growth school leader and parent, Anitra Bells, said she has been satisfied to see.

"That's the biggest thing. I see that we're all moving in the same direction. We all have that same priority of safety and it benefits kids at the end of the day. We want to make sure that students can learn, and we know that they can't learn until they are safe," Bell said.

The students expressed how they were glad to have a voice in their safety and success.

"It kind of forced us all to really be aware of our surroundings,” Trey Cook, a student-athlete, said.

The school hosted several town halls as they were making changes, which included conversations with parents, and teachers, and their most insightful was with students.

KIPP has hired a director of safety and security to lead the St. Louis region who will start in two weeks.

The high school has about 600 students.

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