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Pa. school district stocks classrooms with rocks to combat school shooters

A Pennsylvania school district has armed its students with rocks to defend themselves in the event of a school shooting.

David Helsel, the superintendent of Blue Mountain School District in Schuylkill County, said at a state House Education Committee hearing on school safety this week that his district’s classrooms are equipped with 5-gallon buckets of river rocks.

"If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance to any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full of students armed with rocks,” he said. “And they will be stoned.” 

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Helsel emphasized to BuzzFeed News that the so-called go buckets are a “last-resort” effort in the district’s active school shooter defense plan, which also includes automatic door-securing technology and lock-in and lockdown procedures.

Helsel said the buckets have been in classrooms for two years. Media outlets picked up the story this week after he spoke about the plan at the hearing. He said he thinks news outlets have taken the plan “out of context to make it look silly.”

“If you have a 5-gallon bucket full of river stones, and we have 25 students and a teacher, it will serve as a deterrent,” he said. “We have some people who have some pretty good arms. They can chuck some rocks pretty fast.”

School safety procedures have come under the national spotlight in the weeks since the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration unveiled a series of proposals on school safety and gun restrictions after the Florida shooting that left 17 dead.

The proposals included a push for states to provide firearms training for school staff members.