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'Guns talk': Guadalupe Centers High School students reflect, share solutions to violence in their communities

Guadalupe Center High School
Posted at 8:11 PM, Feb 22, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo — The memories some people may have about high school are the people and the brief moments in the hallways between passing periods.

For some students at Guadalupe Centers High School, it's the memories they try to escape from.

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Alyssa Jackson

"What is the first memory of violence you remember in your life?" said Monique Arellano, a community resource coordinator for the Mattie Rhodes Center.

Some students chose not to share, but others have vivid memories of violence in their neighborhoods and homes.

"I was playing basketball and they started shooting at me, so I started running," a student said.

Another student said they remember their dad beating up their grandpa.

"Friday morning, I got a call saying my boyfriend was deceased from gun violence," Ava Garcia said. "In August, I lost my uncle to gun violence and it kinda tore me a part."

This is all shared during the school's "Grit Group."

Some of them attended the Super Bowl celebration where the mass shooting occurred just over a week ago.

They allowed KSHB 41 to sit-in as long as students faces wouldn't be shown.

"I can tell you after what happened at the parade — I was so angry, I was teary-eyed angry," Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department Ofc. Brandon Walker said.

The violence that may be new to some people who attended the parade is normal for nearly every student in the group.

Much of their childhoods include remembering someone else's being taken too soon.

"Ava is a girl [who's] always smiling and outgoing," Garcia said. "She bottles things up but smiles through the pain."

With the guidance of "Grit Group" leaders, which include school social workers, KCPD and the Mattie Rhodes Center, students are pushed to self-reflect.

"How do we fix this?" Walker asked them.

"It's more of a self-evaluation," said Axel, a student at Guadalupe Center High School.

KSHB 41's Alyssa Jackson asked Axel if he sees himself as a part of change in his community.

"Yeah. I feel like we can get rich legally," he said.

These teens may not be in control of their memories of violence, crime and loss.

"We can make some changes, man," Walker said. "It just starts right here. It starts right here. This second."

The conversations that happen in a small room are what give the students a childhood they can grow old enough to remember.

"You realize it's not right and you make a change," Axel said.

The school’s "Grit Group" meets Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Leaders of the group are currently planning a summer break experience in an effort to take them out of their neighborhoods and give them experiences they wouldn’t otherwise have.

They are currently raising money for a leadership trip to Las Vegas.

If you're interested in helping some of the students attend, donations can be sent to:

1524 Paseo Boulevard, Kansas City, Missouri, 64108
Attn: Mr. Mike Meaney