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St. Louis students talk gun violence, solutions at roundtable

Students from St. Louis Public Schools and Confluence Academy say unfortunately, gun violence is part of their everyday lives.

ST. LOUIS — On Thursday, a group of St. Louis students sat down with school administrators to talk about solutions when it comes to gun violence. 

Not only how to make them feel safer in school, but also how to help beyond the school halls.

Students from St. Louis Public Schools and Confluence Academy say unfortunately, gun violence is part of their everyday lives.

Zacchaeus Williams, a junior studying at Sumner High School, said he is worried every day about his safety.

“So, it's like you'll wake up in the morning and just be like, 'Oh, I don't even know if I'll make it to school. I don't even know if I'm going to make it back from school.' So it's just like, you never know,” Williams said.

That’s something he shared during a panel discussion with school administrators and seven other students including 7th-grader Jaylen Graham.

Graham says she feels like adults spend too much time shielding kids like her from the reality of what’s happening all around them.

“This is a very serious topic, and I just feel like it's not talked about enough. Losing people from that is a very traumatic experience. It's really not talked about enough,” Graham said.

Confluence Academy CEO Dr. Candice Carter Oliver says every three days a child in St. Louis is shot or directly impacted by gun violence, which is why this discussion is so important.

“We have to have an inclusive environment in order to solve this problem that's happening in St. Louis. Hearing directly from students and families is a portion of the work,” Carter Oliver said.

President of the St. Louis Public School Board of Education, Toni Cousins, says school administrators are hoping to add solutions from their students to the curriculum they’re already working on.

“We're trying to start in even as young as preschool, looking at safety measures, put down the guns, making sure we're teaching our preschoolers how to walk away and if you see something, say something,” Cousins said.

Williams says he thinks talking about gun violence and even having gun safety drills should be mandatory just like fire and intruder drills.

“I feel like with maybe having drills with it, we feel safer, that we feel more comfort in knowing that, okay, we talked about this at school. So, if it came down to it, I know what to do in those type of situations,” Williams said.

Carter Oliver said this is only the beginning and they are going to compile all of these ideas and work them into the curriculum. They will also use this roundtable to see how they can provide more opportunities to hear from students and find out how gun violence affects them.

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