Missoula County Coverage

Feb 4, 2013 6:24 PM by Irina Cates -KPAX News

Missoula students part of PBS NewsHour project

MISSOULA - The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School prompted the PBS NewsHour to ask students from around the country for their ideas on how to prevent it from happening again.

Sentinel High School Junior, Madison Thomas, came up with an idea and now she'll present it in a taped discussion on national TV.

"When the shooting in Connecticut happened, our journalism class has been working a documentary for PBS and it's about bear spray," Thomas said.

Sentinel High is one of 45 schools from around the country that's participating in PBS' Student Reporting Labs" project.

After doing some research on the bear spray topic, Thomas suggested that something like this non-lethal deterrent can also be used to protect staff and students in schools.

"Similar to a fire extinguisher box. When you open the door, the bear spray would be in there," Thomas said.

"The teacher would have to go over to the box and open it and then the alarm would sound throughout the school. It would be sent to the police department and the school would automatically know that there's somebody in the school with a gun," she continued.

"I mean other than locking my door and trying to keep somebody out, I don't know as a teacher what I would be able to do," says Sentinel High School Journalism teacher, Jenn Keintz."Teachers could use the bear spray and they're not going to kill anybody, but they'll keep somebody probably killing one of the kids."

Thomas suggests this system of fire extinguisher-type boxes could be set up in a way that also allows law enforcement to know which area of the school needs to be searched first.

There's still no definitive date on when this student discussion will air on PBS.

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