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Iowa school shooting leaves community in shock

The small town of Perry, Iowa, faces a “senseless tragedy”
Tansy Velush
Gun violence in schools is becoming commonplace in this country. In 2022, students around the district protested gun violence in response to a shooting at Ingraham High School

An all-too-familiar tragedy struck Perry High School in Iowa just four days into the new year. On January 4th, a 17-year-old student opened fire, killing two people and injuring four students and two staff members.

The student killed was just 11 years old – he attended the connected middle school. Perry High School Principal Dan Marbinger was critically injured during the shooting and sadly died from his injuries 10 days later, according to CNN. 

According to APNews.com, “The high-schooler identified as the shooter died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.” The teenager is believed to have acted alone.

This was the second school shooting of 2024 in the United States.

“I think it’s really sad that only a few days into the new year, there were already cases like this,” an anonymous student said.

Gun violence in schools is becoming commonplace in this country. In 2023 alone, 346 school shootings took place in the U.S. – that’s an average of almost one per day, according to U.S. News. This is the highest number on record since at least 1966.

“Most of the time I just think about the people who cared most for the people who died,” freshman Tyler Van-Norman said. “And how awful it is that people can do this to someone else.”

In 2022, Seattle Public Schools was rocked by an act of violence when a student opened fire at Ingraham High School – resulting in the death of another 17-year-old student. Also, just this last fall, four schools – including Nathan Hale High School and Garfield High School – were placed on lockdown after reports of gun-related incidents.

“I personally feel safe in my city and school,” said another Ballard student. “But just last year there was a case of gun violence in schools at Ingraham. This shows that the only thing we can do is try to prevent these terrible things from happening.”

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Brent Jones gave an update last June about the district’s “Safe and Welcoming Schools” initiative.

“The violence we are seeing in and around our schools is heartbreaking and unacceptable,” Jones wrote in a letter to the community on the SPS website in June 2023. “While I am proud of the progress made since launching our safety initiative… I acknowledge this update took more time than anticipated. Rebounding from tragedy and ensuring the safety of our school community is not easy. We have too much at stake not to be diligent in this work.” 

The SPS Safety Initiative – which can be found on the SPS Website – includes new campus signage to help students and staff easily remember and follow safety procedures, updated school entry and classroom locks, and a new anonymous safety reporting app for the community.

Jessica Rogers, a parent of a Ballard student, said that the shooting in Perry is a startling reminder of the frustrating reality facing high schoolers today.

“If it can happen in a small Iowa town, it can happen anywhere,” she said. “It is time for this country and our local community to come together to make actual changes to ensure the safety of our students. Every kid deserves to go to school without the fear that this could happen to them.”

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