Principal & Superintendent weigh in after gun incident at elementary school

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It was a tough week at Helen Marie Smith Elementary School. On Wednesday, a 9-year-old student brought a gun to campus and showed it to other kids. Nobody was hurt, but it was a difficult moment for Principal Robert Hinchliffe.

"At elementary, you don't really come across that," he said.

Another student told a teacher at the school that a student had brought a gun to school. Principal Hinchliffe says he was very grateful to see that a student spoke up after seeing something potentially dangerous.

"The fact that he did that, who knows what the outcome could have been," the principal said. "We're thankful he did that, and it really is a lesson to all of the other kids that if you see something, tell someone."

On Friday afternoon, Clark County School District Superintendent Dr. Jesus Jara visited the school for a tour of the campus. The state designated the school as a "Shining Star" school for outstanding achievement.

"This is a great thing," Dr. Jara said. "It's celebrating success."

Hinchliffe felt this designation helped end the tough week on a positive note.

“You take the negative, turn it around into a positive, and you keep teaching the kids and doing what you can," he said.

When it comes to the gun incident itself, Dr. Jara shares the principal's gratitude that a student spoke up. He says it's crucial for students to continue to speak up and let the adults know if something is wrong. In the meantime, he says he's already received suggestions from people in the community on how to ensure student safety. Since school started on Aug. 13, there have been 9 incidents of guns on CCSD campuses.

"What I go back to, is really working with the experts, our police department, to make sure that we enhance our environment so our kids are safe," Dr. Jara said. "So, this is something that we are continuing to look at and start addressing quickly."

The principal says as the school continues to find ways to improve security, he hopes parents will also take part in keeping the learning environment safe for all.

“The school can only do so much, and we count on the parents as well," Hinchliffe said. "It’s a team effort here to keep everybody safe.”

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