Innovation Academy Student Brings Awareness to School Shootings


Written by: Alyssa Tyler , Assistant Editor

According to Vox, there were more school shooting incidents in 2018 than any other year on record. Senior LaKaia Smith’s innovation academy project for this year is, We Are Worth It, is a project-based around school shooting prevention and awareness. 

My main goal when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do, was to do something impactful. [Something] that wasn’t only for me. I wanted it to benefit more people than that. I want it to benefit the school and the community. I really wanted to do something that would be important,” said Smith. 

Smith has planned fundraising and awareness events throughout the next two semesters. These events are meant to help raise money to bring Christina Anderson, a Virginia Tech shooting survivor, to speak about her experiences. All of the money raised will go to her foundation. 

“My initial goal, by the end, is to have a survivor come in and speak to the school. And share her experience. That’s what I’m working towards. I think that her coming and sharing that experience and just trying to connect with our school and trying to connect the students and the staff, [would show] how impactful that is, to see where she is now. She’s advocating how it’s important to talk about [school shootings] and it’s important to have school safety. That’s my goal, to have all of that known,” said Smith. 

Molly Gomes, Smith’s IA advisor, believes that there is a need to talk about school shootings and their consequences. 

“I love it. I think that it’s something really important that we need to be talking about and discussing. As a teacher, I’m really honestly uncomfortable talking about school shootings because trying to discuss gun violence [with] a lot with my students. I don’t want to freak anybody out and I also have students where I’m worried they’re not going to take it seriously. LaKaia showed me the video on Youtube of Anderson talking with kids, and she has a very matter of fact object way of discussing things. She, in some ways, makes it less scary, but also drives home the seriousness of a school shooting. I think it’s a really meaningful thing that she’s doing,” said Gomes. 

The project, We Are Worth It, means more than just school shooting prevention to Smith. 

“We Are Worth It means we all look at each other and we might not like someone or we might have differences, but at the end of the day, we all struggle with something and nobody is better than anybody else. That’s something that I think is a huge problem and we all just need to be welcoming and kind to each other,” said Smith. 

Smith will have an awareness week from Nov. 4-8. Tuesday and Thursday of that week there will be a bake sale. And Wednesday will be Wear Orange Day, the school shooting prevention color. Smith is also hoping to have another spirit week the week before Anderson comes to the school sometime second semester.