EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSAFE SCHOOLS SUMMIT
from Eyewitness News Online
Preparation, Vigilance Urged At Safe Schools Summit
Reported by: Katy Brown
Videographer: Bob Frank, John Tincher
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Also Contributing: Kristin Keeling
Reported: Feb. 6, 2013 12:00 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 7, 2013 9:59 AM EST
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
Hundreds of people packed the culture center today, all wanting to see a plan in place to make sure our schools are as safe as possible.
It's just another step in a community effort to prevent tragedy from happening here at home.
"I don't want it to happen again, none of us do," said Lisa Petrovich.
Lisa Petrovich is talking about the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
While originally from West Virginia, she lives in Connecticut now.
She witnessed first hand the heartbreaking aftermath of one of the deadliest school shootings in US history.
"If it can happen there, it can happen anywhere."
Petrovich spoke at the Safe Schools Summit in Charleston, giving her perspective on school safety.
"It brought things alive and made you realize it could happen in an elementary school, it could happen anywhere," said Mellow Lee, the principal at Westside Elementary.
Lee is one of several local educators, law enforcement members, and West Virginia officials to attend Wednesday's summit.
United States attorney Booth Goodwin hopes they all take away a similar message.
"Practical, local steps that people could take from here back to their school systems," said Goodwin, "and insitute tomorrow if they needed to."
Petrovich says "there's no guidebook or handbook for something like this."
And while there may not be a guidebook, Principal Lee says the summit can provide reassurance in her school's plan of action.
"So I think this is kind of a way to reassure ourselves that we have plans and that our procedures are in place, are the correct procedures," said Lee, "and we can practice those procedures and make sure that we're going everything we can."
Wednesday's summit is just another step to make schools a safer place to send our loved ones because the chances of such a tragedy hitting here at home are very real.
"I hate saying that, but it's true," said Petrovich, "It can happen anywhere."
The fight for school safety was the message Wednesday at the Cultural Center.
The Safe Schools Summit was packed with state leaders, educators, and police agencies from all across the state.
In the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre, and the tragedies at Columbine and Virgina Tech, the summit taught steps that are necessary to keep violence out of schools and how to prepare for it.
Lisa Petrovich was among the many inspirational speakers today.
Petrovich is from from West Virginia, but now lives in Newtown, Conn. Her kids once attended school at Sandy Hook Elementary, and she told the audience that you can never be too prepared for such a tragedy.
"If it could happen there, it could happen anywhere,” Petrovich said. “ I hate saying that but it's true. It could happen anywhere. I don't want it to happen again. None of us do."
Kanawha County is already taking steps toward safer schools.
Starting next week, deputies will spend four hour shifts of overtime visiting local schools at random throughout the county.
Another of the featured speakers was Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a leading expert on human aggression and the roots of violence.
Grossman blamed violent media and entertainment and advocated better preparedness and tighter, armed security to prevent school violence.
Grossman pushed simple, inexpensive solutions at Wednesday's summit - implementing lockdown plans, locking doors and shatter-proofing windows. He also called for more controversial tactics like placing armed guards in schools and strict dress codes that ban baggy pants.
He said violent movies and video games teach children from an early age to associate violence and killing with pleasure and rewards.
He called for the creation of no media-violence zones in schools, with a moratorium on violence in art and writing.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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