Hearts are heavy in McLoud Public Schools after a 16-year-old student was shot to death Friday.
Students and staff wore blue and purple to school Monday, the favorite colors of victim Kaylen Thomas.
Two teens were arrested for Thomas’ death, one, a fellow Mcloud student.
Monday, counselors roamed the halls to help heal.
“In the past 14 months this is our third. I've buried my third kid due to gun violence,” McLoud Public Schools Superintendent Steve Stanley said.
Stanley is still mourning the loss of Rayden French, a McLoud student who was shot to death in July.
Several months before French’s death, another student committed suicide, according to Stanley.
Three students losing their lives to gun violence in 14 months is just one problem Stanley is trying to address.
“Over 70 percent of ours are in poverty in our school. We have close to 50 percent live with one parent or no parent. We have homeless kids. Their safest place is just to come here and eat and feel safe let alone try to teach them,” Stanley said.
During his tenure, Stanley has locked school doors and gates.
The district has two school resources officers, and Stanley is even asking for community advice to address violence.
However, the past three deaths happened off campus, so Stanley relies on role models to make a lasting impact.
Thomas' Basketball and Cross Country Coach Doug Armstrong says he’ll never forget the young woman.
“Every time I keep picturing Kaylen in my head it's a smile on her face. Somebody that was always happy. Somebody trying to do the right thing,” Armstrong said.
Like Stanley, Thomas is hoping the community steps up for their kids.
“It's a situation now where the community's got to rally. We've got to come together as one and move forward with the positive light of Kaylen Thomas who is a kid who loved life,” Armstrong said.