EXCLUSIVE: Channel 9 sits down with Hopewell HS principal after guns found on campus

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Hopewell High School in Huntersville has been plagued by violence recently, including a major fight last week that resulted in police finding two guns and arresting five students. A sixth student was charged later.

The school’s principal, Tracey Pickard, sat down exclusively with Channel 9 reporter Anthony Kustura to talk about safety on campus. She says it’s her top priority.

“What are we going to do to truly impact and influence our students so that their high school experience won’t be one of lockdowns every day? It’s not something that any of us want to experience. No principal would ever want that in their school,” Pickard said.

Community activists, parents and school board members have since called for added protections like metal detectors and clear backpacks.

“I do agree. Unfortunately, it’s not something I could implement overnight. You can’t just implement clear book bags for 1,800 students at Hopewell,” she said.

Pickard said requests have been made to the school board to adopt those changes.

Another measure the school is using is a modified lockdown that’s been in place since September, out of an abundance of caution. It means an adult chaperon must escort students on campus.

With staff shortages, Pickard is relying on parents to step up.

“This is one way we thought we could get more hands, eyes and feet to our students,” she said.

That includes parents such as Gene Harris, whose son attends the school.

“It’s been a challenging month or so at this school. Once we get our plan in place, I think we’ll come together and turn this thing around,” Harris said.

Nearly 60 other Hopewell family members have pledged to help move students along in the hallways, empty the bathrooms and act as extra eyes for the staff.

Pickard said the focus at school needs to be education. She is committed to working with the community to get her students on track.

“I’ve seen the power of relationships, and the power of school and education in a child’s life. I’m determined that at Hopewell, we can have that impact,” Pickard said.

There is a town hall planned for next week at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville.

Education leaders, parents and Huntersville police will come together to talk about how they can all partner to keep children safe.

(WATCH BELOW: 5 students charged, 2 guns found following fight at Hopewell High School)