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Students discuss back-to-school fears in a post-Uvalde world

Crandall ISD students open up about their concerns as the school year begins, but also their faith in educators and security staff tasked with keeping them safe.

CRANDALL, Texas — When Crandall ISD held a highly-realistic active shooter drill at Crandall High School late last month, teachers who played the roles of victims admitted to us that the exercise was emotionally difficult at times.  

Police officers racing through the hallways, although armed with weapons rendered safe and inoperable, heightened their anxiety in a post-Uvalde world.

"It's scary, yes," attendance administrator Danita Pilgreen told us as she was ordered to raise her hands and march single file outside with other employees where officers from several police departments were staged for the training exercise.

"Yes it's still scary to think there are people out here that would come into a school and do this to innocent people," she said.

But what about the students who returned to campus Tuesday for the start of the 2022-23 school year? Are they scared too?

A half dozen agreed to answer that question at the PIT, the Crandall Pirates in Training Center.

"I worry a lot," admitted sophomore Tasiana Daniels-Butler.

And from sophomores to seniors they admitted that Uvalde has made them think about things they'd never really worried about before.

"I think it's really scary that our society has to worry about these things these kind of days," said senior Kenly Cox.

"There's always that little thought in the back of my mind that any given time that someone can walk in and a situation can happen," said senior Samuel Omosigho.

"It's in the back of our heads. What if this happens, what if that happens," said senior Luke Moffitt.

"I know that anything can happen at any given time. And what happened in Uvalde is a devastating situation so that's a thought that I keep in my head," said sophomore Jonas Carpio.

"I think that it's always in the back our mind. It's always gonna be there," admitted junior Jamyson Starrett.  "It hurts my heart to see that happens and that somebody would think to do that."

"It's impacted me more. Because now I think about it more," added Carpio.

But each student said they have accepted training exercises like the one that took place on their campus in July as part of a new necessary normal.

And each said they fully trust their school security plan and security staff to be there when and if needed.

"It makes me feel safer," Kenly Cox said. "I like to know that our teachers are prepared in case the worst possible outcome happens. So the fact that they're going into training makes me feel safer here."

"I do feel safe here in Crandall and I believe that everybody should be able to feel that way wherever you're at," said Jamyson Starrett.

"But I feel like our school has done a very good job in taking care of us and making sure that we're safe," said Samuel Omosigho.

"We know who we're protected by. And we're comfortable," added Luke Moffitt.

But, Tasiana Daniels-Butler, looking at the bigger picture, says she thinks about all schools, not just her own.

"As a whole of the United States, I'm like scared for our safety. Because it's not something that's changing. It keeps happening," she said of school shootings and other campus violence nationwide.

In this half dozen students, however, is a future lawyer, a future journalist, a soon-to-be college football player, and the daughter of a police officer who already knows she wants to join the FBI someday.

"I would love to help people and help our society become better and safer," Kenly Cox said.

A next generation, yes with some fears, but with plenty of hope for their futures too.

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