Local Students Lead Anti-Gun Violence Discussion

Since the Newtown shooting, a Bay Area school has led the way in online discussions on gun violence and what students can do to stop it.

“I hope that people with mental health issues will be given professional help instead of guns,” one girl said.

“I hope the government will create better background checks for new gun owners,” said another student.

Their thoughts become words and those words will hopefully turn into action. The 8th-graders at Bullis Charter School in Los Altos created hand cut-outs and wrote messages starting with “I hope.”

When done, they uploaded the pictures of their hand-messages onto a website called uclass.org, where teachers can access any kind of lesson. One of the featured online lessons is called “Hands of Hope.”

“They really wanted to figure out a way to help teachers teach about Sandy Hook. Events like these are very difficult to teach about,” teacher Jessica Lura said.

Lura, a teacher at Bullis, co-wrote the lesson with former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — herself a victim of gun violence — and Nicole Hockley, a parent whose son Dylan was killed at Sandy Hook.

Lura opens up the topic of gun violence for discussion with her students and other teachers around the nation who log on to the website follow her lead.

Hannah Phelps, a student, says it’s raising awareness. “So a lot more people are aware of what’s happening and people can reach out to each other and help each other in times like this, when people aren’t really sure what’s happening,” she said.

“I hope that people of all races, sexual orientations, and ages will choose to come together instead of bullying each other,” said student Tommy Gomez, reading his message.

“I think that most people know about it but they just don’t know what to do about it,” he said.

“I’m hoping this is a starting point for more discussion about what it means to be safe in schools today. How do we make sure we’re safe and how do we integrate those conversations into schools?” Lura said.

All 4th-graders through 8th-graders at Bullis have already completed the “Hands of Hope” lesson.

View a the broadcast video at this link.