For most students graduating from middle school, the gift they never wanted to receive was a TI‑84 calculator that was required for next year’s math class. In 2018, middle school graduates in Pennsylvania were gifted a bulletproof shield.
St. Cornelius School, a private school located in Chadds Ford, Pa., gave the entire class of eighth-graders the SafeShield, a 10-by-12-inch, 20-ounce plate that fits in their backpack.
As with any gift, it’s the thought that counts. However, the SafeShield is not likely to keep the students safe from high-powered semiautomatic weapons.
One student told Fox 29: “I never thought I’d need this.”
Rob Vito, the president of Unequal Technology, which makes the shields, presented the students their gifts at Monday’s graduation. Some students were less than thrilled to receive a gift that would suggest imminent gun violence.
Vito, who has two children attending the school, gifted 15 shields to the graduates and 25 to faculty.
Chestercounty.com reports that, while on stage, Vito told the students, “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. This fits into the backpack, and students can forget it’s there, until the moment of need.”
The shields, according to Vito, render handguns “useless,” including .44 Magnums and .357 SIGs.
Unequal Technology, which typically makes sporting equipment, doesn’t claim that its product will protect against semiautomatic rifles, like the ones commonly used in mass-shooting situations. In the recent attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., an AR-15 was used to kill 17.
Bulletproof shields, usually used only by military or SWAT teams, typically cost around $300. SafeShield, while less resistant, retails at $150. Schools can also visit the Unequal website and purchase the shields at $99.
Barbara Rosini, the principal, who was originally contacted Vito about the SafeShields, said: “I worry about our kids. We can only protect them so far. This product can make our kids safer. I hope you [the students] keep them with you in high school.”