BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) – Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Parkland. Uvalde.
Today’s children grow up knowing every day at school their lives could be at risk.
59News sat down with three high schoolers to talk about what it’s like growing up in the age of school shootings.
“You see it happen at schools, like in Florida, and at Walmarts, in Texas. You just always have to be ready, like whenever and wherever, for that stuff to happen,” said Woodrow Wilson Junior Joshua Helton.
One question was, do kids even feel safe in schools?
“For the most part, yes. But you always have a little bit of a doubt,” said Davon Allard, also a Junior at Woodrow Wilson High School. “Especially when, at the beginning of the year, they have you going over ALICE drills.”
ALICE is an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. These are the five steps schools take in the event of an active shooter situation.
“They have us, like, barricading the doors. Turning off the lights. Shutting all the doors,” said Allard. “It’s kind of just really… They’re having us ready for somebody who really wants to come at us.”
Joshua Helton and Cameron Evans, both juniors at Woodrow Wilson, nearly came face to face with gun violence last month when shots were fired at a popular festival they were attending in downtown Beckley.
“I heard (the shooting). It sounded pretty close, like it could be anywhere as I ran up that street, like it could come out anywhere,” Helton told 59News. “In the back of my mind, I was scared for my life, but I was just worried about finding my people and making sure they were safe.”
“It was a mix of panic and like, adrenaline rush,” said Evans. “I don’t know, it was just a very scary experience.”
The question of the emotional weight this toll takes on students still lingers heavy on the minds of parents, however.
Helton shared his opinion on the approach students in this new era take to heading out to public events, or even to school.
“You always have to just be ready to get out of there if something like that were to happen, but still have fun. Still try to enjoy it as much as you can, but have your instincts ready,” said Helton.
Despite growing up in a time when the threat of gun violence is ever-present, these students all agreed that people should still be allowed to own guns.
“I think that you should be tested before you can own anything that can harm another human,” Evans explained.
“I think if you take the right actions to get a gun, then you should have it for safety and home reasons,” said Allard. “But if the wrong person has a gun, then anything can really happen.”