School Climate & Safety Video

They Survived a School Shooting. Here’s What They Want You to Know

By Lauren Santucci — November 17, 2022 6:28
Santa Fe High School freshman, Jai Gillard, writes messages on each of the 10 crosses representing victims in front of the school in Santa Fe, Texas, on May 21, 2018.

This year has already seen at least 44 shootings at K-12 schools that have killed or injured people. The mass shooting in a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school killed 19 children and two teachers in May, and lesser-known incidents on school grounds and at school-sponsored events have killed at least 36 people in 2022.

The reverberations of these school shootings are widespread. Victims. Survivors. Their families. The wider community. All are impacted in their own ways and those effects often last years.

In the days, weeks, and months after a shooting, schools and districts typically respond by providing resources they think might be needed to help their students and staff process and recover from the trauma. It’s an arduous and unenviable task. Members of the campus community may still be in shock. Many may not know exactly what they need, or when. Even a school that, from the outside, seems to have provided all they could, might miss vulnerable groups.

That’s why Education Week reached out to survivors of the Santa Fe High School shooting in May 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. More than four years later, we wanted to hear what lessons they have to share with other schools and communities if they find themselves in a similar, horrific experience.

After the shooting at Santa Fe High—which left 10 people dead and 13 injured—the school and district provided a multitude of resources. Some of what they offered included counseling services both within the school and beyond, bringing in support dogs, and providing a liaison to those most impacted. In the months after the May shooting, the school spent the summer training teachers on how to meet the needs of students dealing with trauma, identifying those students and staff closest to the shooting who might be the most affected, and facilitating groups for survivors. The principal also offered open meetings.

Here, some of the survivors share their experiences and offer insight and advice for current and future school and district leaders.

Lauren Santucci is a video producer for Education Week.

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