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Students have buckets of rocks to throw at school shooters in Pennsylvania district

David Helsel, superintendent of Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, said that classrooms will be equipped with five-gallon bucket of river stones that students can throw at a school shooter.
David Helsel, superintendent of Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, said that classrooms will be equipped with five-gallon bucket of river stones that students can throw at a school shooter. Creative Commons

Students in one Pennsylvania school district are armed and ready to take down a school shooter.

But they don’t have guns, Blue Mountain School District Superintendent David Helsel told state lawmakers. Instead, students at the district in Schuylkill County are equipped with five-gallon buckets of river stones that are hidden in the closet of each classroom, according to WNEP.

Teachers in the district have been taught how to evacuate in the event of a school shooting, Helsel said, but the rock plan serves as a backup.

“At one time I just had the idea of river stone, they’re the right size for hands, you can throw them very hard, ” he told WNEP, “and they will create or cause pain, which can distract.”

Helsel said his school district trains maintenance staff to wield a gun, according to PublicSource.org, but teachers aren’t armed. Instead, he hopes the prospect of a hail of stones will deter any would-be mass shooter.

“They will face a classroom full of rocks,” he said, “and they will be stoned.”

One senior at Blue Mountain High School told WNEP that giving students the rocks is important “because it will help protect the schools.” He added that “anything helps, rocks are better than books and pencils.” But one unnamed person called the plan “rather comical” while another said “it’s absurd, arm the teachers.”

There’s been renewed debate over how to best protect students after a shooter killed 17 students and faculty members last month at a high school in Parkland, Florida. Some have advocated for arming teachers and staff, while others — including many survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — have advocated for stricter gun control laws and mental health screening.

Some school officials have made controversial decisions when trying to protect students. Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are now required to use clear backpacks and wear identification badges at all times. Metal detectors could also be used at the school.

Students at Niles McKinley High School in Niles, Ohio, will no longer be able to bring their backpacks into the building, according to WKBN. The school board said it banned backpacks because it wanted “to make every student feel safe” amid rising fears of gun violence.

Instead, students at the school are just allowed to have lunch boxes and “small purses.” They will also be given more time between classes to go grab books from their lockers, officials told Fox8.

Backpacks were banned at middle and high schools in Manatee County, Florida, following around a dozen threats, according to WFLA. Scott L. Hopes, a member of the county’s school board, said his colleagues take the threats seriously.

“If you’re going to bring a weapon to school,” he told WFLA, “you wouldn’t hang it around your neck, you’d probably put it in a backpack.”

And in West Virginia, students at Winfield High School were told they could no longer bring cellphones inside. School officials made that decision after someone sent a threat on an anonymous texting app, according to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

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