PORTLAND, Ore. – Since the shooting in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day, students in Oregon and across the country have walked out of class, calling an end for gun violence.
But Friday’s school shooting in Texas is another heart-wrenching blow. Students hope for a time when they are no longer afraid to walk into their classrooms.
“It's definitely been on my mind all day, what happened. It's hard not to have it be,” said Tigard High School sophomore Meghan Turley. “It was a school. I'm in a school. Is my school going to be the next headline?"
News of the tragedy is both heartbreaking and frustrating for students like Turley and Lincoln High School senior Lauryn Wilk. Both worked hard this year to organize walkouts at their high schools.
“Student rallies and walkouts are great and they definitely show the power students have, but the next step we need to take is getting a group of students together, going down to the state capitol,” Wilk explained.
Students said they want to push even harder for change after Friday’s shooting.
"I wouldn't call it discouraging. If anything it's motivating because this motivates me to work harder to make sure legislation is passed to prevent this from happening ever again,” Turley said.
The thought of a shooting happening here is a weight Rick Puente carries with him daily. Puente is the director of public safety for the Beaverton School District.
"I know that every decision I make, in regards to safety and security, there are 41,000 lives of students that depend on those decisions,” he said.
Puente said the district reviews every tragedy and is constantly updating policies. He said they are already working to improve safety protocol and implement a new plan for next year. For example, changing how students respond during a fire drill by training staff and students to check their surroundings before walking outside.
“I think that's where we are now, rolling into a new phase, to say what else can we be teaching our staff?” Puente explained. “What else can we be teaching our students, to protect themselves in a situation where there's an imminent threat inside our school buildings?"
As for students, they now plan to take their fight for change to the state capitol. They said they are working on getting a group of students together to lobby for gun law reform.