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Pennsylvania Middle Schoolers Get Bulletproof Backpack Shields As Graduation Gifts

As they head for high school, these middle schoolers are prepared for the worst.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

Necessary, downright depressing, or a little bit of both?

In lieu of common graduation gifts like cash and flowers, graduating eighth graders at a Pennsylvania middle school got something much more practical — and alarming — this week: bulletproof backpack plates.

The graduating class at St. Cornelius in Chadds Ford got the plates as gifts during their graduation ceremony on Monday, The Hill reports. The SafeShields —a thin, 10-by-12-inch plate designed to be slipped into a backpack in the event of an emergency — were a gift from Unequal Technologies, a local company.

“Handguns are useless against a product like this. Shotguns are useless against a product like this,” said Rob Vito, president of Unequal Technologies. Vito’s daughter is a student at St. Cornelius, WTXF, a Fox station out of Pennsylvania, reports.

25 plates were also gifted to faculty members, WTXF reports.

The shields seemed to represent a disheartening reality for some who attended the graduation ceremony at St. Cornelius.

“I never thought I’d need this,” one graduating student told WTXF.

“You hear about these school shootings almost weekly, and I can’t believe that’s where we are in our nation today, but that’s the fact,” said one great-grandparent.

While bulletproof backpacks could be considered excessive by some, they’re far from the most outlandish response to school shootings that have been offered in recent years.

A superintendent in Pennsylvania made the controversial decision earlier this year to equip classrooms with buckets of rocks as a defense against possible mass shooters.

“Every classroom has been equipped with a five-gallon bucket of river stone,” David Helsel, superintendent of the Blue Mountain School District, told WNEP, a Pennsylvania-based ABC station. “If an armed intruder attempts to gain entrance into any of our classrooms, they will face a classroom full of students armed with rocks and they will be stoned.”

[Photo: Mother and child during a kindergarten graduation ceremony, via Getty Images]