CMS students reflect on school safety ahead of community panel

CHARLOTTE — A new school year is in full swing and school safety remains top of mind.

Channel 9′s education reporter Jonathan Lowe confirmed on Thursday that no weapons have been found on Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ campuses so far this year -- this excludes a time last month when a parent brought a loaded gun inside Butler High School during student orientation.

It’s also a year of unprecedented security measures, including weapons detectors in all middle and high schools.

Education leaders in Charlotte want to know how the kids are coping with it all.

Maya Miles, a senior at West Charlotte High School, grins with pride at the mention of her school. She and her classmates have spent two weeks at their new school building.

“Just having tons of space, cause last year, we had an open campus, but I feel like it was older, so just knick knacks everywhere,” Miles said.

Miles is in her second year with weapons detectors in the school, but she said this year they’ve tweaked the screenings to not be set off by laptops.

“We can have it in our bag, but if they detect something they check our bags every time to make sure nothing is in there,” she said.

Last school year, CMS officials found a record 31 guns on campus, including some of them at West Charlotte.

“We’re used to it and we just keep ourselves distracted, so that we don’t have to just focus on that,” Miles said.

On Sunday, Miles will join other CMS students from Myers Park, Hopewell and West Charlotte high schools for a conversation on student safety. Local leaders hope to learn from the students’ thoughts, feelings and concerns of what’s going on in their schools.

“We are in a place in the nation where students have to carry the fears that grown-ups have to carry, ‘Am I going to die today? ‘Is there going to be a mass shooting?’” said Colette Forrest, an activist and organizer of the event.

Congresswoman Alma Adams will be in attendance for the event at Reeder Memorial Baptist Church in north Charlotte titled “Your safety in America.” The panel starts at 3 p.m. and is open to the public.

Organizers said they are using the day of remembrance on Sept. 11 to listen.

“How do you feel going through a metal detector? How do you feel being scanned with a handheld device?” Forrest said. “We want them to tell us in their own voices, how do they feel with safety on their school campuses, safety in their neighborhood.”

Miles said it’s an opportunity to participate in conversations students are normally left out of.

“Us kids, we should be heard more, because everyone has a different opinion,” she said. “They’re not really asking how we feel, they just assume how we feel, so they’re assuming that we’re all scared and we’re all nervous.”

(WATCH BELOW: State education leaders release performance grades for CMS)

Jonathan Lowe

Jonathan Lowe, wsoctv.com

Jonathan is a reporter for WSOC-TV.