Students were given the floor to discuss issues such as mental health, the nickel tax and school safety Monday during the Delta and MYCity Youth Forum at the Christian County Middle School Performing Arts Center.

Most notably, Christian County Public Schools students voiced their concerns about not feeling safe at school.

“When we’re all just running in the hallway in between classes, a shooter could come in then,” said 13-year-old Jesse Gilkey. “I don’t think we’re that safe.”

Several students shared that the active-shooter drills don’t prepare them for scenarios that might happen outside the classroom.

Bella Fowler said security in schools should get better like airports after 9/11.

“After 9/11, security in airports got better and they’re more safe, and I feel like schools should do that too,” Bella said. “There’s been so many school shootings that we need metal detectors and more police officers.”

Another student shared information about the Hero911 app, which would alert all law enforcement in the event of an active shooter.

Superintendent Mary Anne Gemmill assured the students that she heard their concerns and would take their ideas back to the school board. She noted that the school buildings were built over 50 years ago, with the main threat being a fire.

“It was more open space, lots of doors, because the greatest threat we had back in the day was maybe an internal fire,” she said. “Now think about what we’re dealing with. Fast forward 50 years and we don’t need those doors for people to come into.”

Gemmill said the nickel tax vote was an effort by the school board to get funding to build more modern facilities, but she noted “we lost big.”

“But I’m still going to ask for money for new facilities as long as I’m here,” said Gemmill, who plans to retire the end of the school year. “You know you want and deserve a safer place and a safer school.”

In closing, Gemmill invited CCMS student India Smith to share her perspective about mental health and school safety.

“You can’t really prepare for a drill like that,” India said. “Anything can happen on any given day, so it’s not really fair to blame it on the way that the school works.

“Most school shootings happen by a student, and that goes back to mental health awareness and you have to connect those two things together,” the 15-year-old said. “If a student is not getting enough mental illness help, it can result in things like that, and that goes back to our school administration not having enough resources to help with things like that.”

Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or zalleyne@kentuckynewera.com.

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