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St. Louis students to address gun violence

by Cameron Gerber | February 27, 2023 at 4:01 a.m.
School staff cheer as students returned to in-person classes at Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. The Oct. 24 shooting was among the deadliest school shootings in the U.S. last year. Tenth-grader Alexzandria Bell and 61-year-old physical education teacher Jean Kuczka died before police killed the gunman, former student Orlando Harris, in an exchange of gunfire. (AP Photo/Jim Salter)

Months after a deadly shooting at their schools, students from Central Visual and Performing Arts High School in St. Louis will be at the Missouri Capitol to discuss gun violence and showcase an art display.

A gunman entered the high school in October, taking the life of student Alexzandria Bell and teacher Jean Kuczka and injuring seven others. Students from the school will present the art installation and host a media availability on gun violence and mass shooting and speak with lawmakers Tuesday.

"Visiting the Capitol offers our students a chance to speak openly and creatively about the trauma of that day and about how our nation's epidemic of mass shootings and gun violence personally impacted them," Matthew Clyde Pace, a government and politics teacher at the school, said in a statement. "We hope lawmakers from both sides of the aisle take time to hear their stories and respond to their calls to action."

St. Louis Democrat Rep. Peter Merideth, who represents the area in the Missouri House, encouraged his colleagues to attend the event to hear their stories.

"Survivors need their voices heard so we can avert these tragedies in the future," Merideth said. "I cannot emphasize the importance of their stories enough in our discourse here in Jefferson City. I would encourage every single legislator in this building to attend and come to understand that we can and must prevent mass shootings instead of ignoring -- or worse, exacerbating -- this plague on America's youth."

The installation will run from 9-11:30 a.m. Tuesday in the third floor rotunda of the Capitol, with the news conference beginning at 9:30 a.m.

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