An East Newton High School freshman will soon compete in the FCCLA State STAR Events (competition) held on April 8 in Columbia, Mo.

GRANBY — An East Newton High School freshman will soon compete in the FCCLA State STAR Events (competition) held on April 8 in Columbia, Mo.

Kendra Kennedy, a member of the high school's FCCLA, recently completed her project titled "Leave Behind: Gun Control in Schools and State."

Before the competition, Kennedy presented the report at the Neosho Senior Center and Rep. Bill Reiboldt on Monday morning.

Kennedy started off her presentation with a quote from Newtown County Sheriff AJ Rodenberg.

"What took place in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, was a wake up call that rung loud and clear throughout our country," the sheriff noted. "If this tragic school shooting could happen here in our small town, it could happen anywhere."

"Our local concern was, 'should school grounds have access to a firearm,' and 'should our teachers be firearm licensed to carry?'" Kennedy said. "Research included local print media, local and national television, Internet searches, email and personal interviews. Internet findings indicated public policy had been to pursue the Federal Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990, which limits where a person may legally carry a firearm. Public concern changed with an increase in school shootings. In 2005, Wikipedia disclosed Missouri had joined 48 other states in lifting some form of conceal carry law (impact on State and Local Law). In 2013, Missouri House of Representatives Mike Kelly sponsored HP70, which allows a teacher or school administrator to carry a concealed firearm into a higher education institution or elementary or secondary school if he or she has a valid concealed carry endorsement or permit."

Kennedy explained the project goal.

"The goal of our advocacy project was to open up school safety communication with students, faculty and the community and share findings with the school board and state representative decision makers," she said. "Students were selected because some may fear safety at school or don't like being around guns. Teachers were selected because they are being asked to take a class, carry a weapon and take action if needed. Community patrons were selected because they have given schools that responsibility and expectation of care and safety of the students while on the grounds."

Kennedy handed out surveys to the high school students, teachers and the community.

"There were 333 student surveys, 88 teacher surveys and 32 public opinion community surveys returned," she noted. "The tallied total for each question was divided by the total in the group for a percentage assessment. More than 70 percent of all student and teacher surveys returned marked 'yes' to both having firearms in school and teachers should have choice in conceal and carry. Whereas, the public opinion of our community was 100 percent indicated 'yes' to having firearms in school and 75 percent marked all staff should participate in conceal and carry."
Reiboldt was impressed with Kennedy doing the project.

"I think that it is tremendous that she would get involved, research this subject out and our Second Amendment rights and present this," he said. "The young people need to understand our Constitution, the guarantees that we have in that Constitution and we want to maintain those Second Amendment rights that our Founding Fathers gave us."