When trying to think of an appropriate gift to give a student at their graduation, you might consider a nice watch or an inspiring book. You probably didn't consider getting them a bulletproof ballistic shield that slides perfectly into their backpacks.
That's what the eighth grade graduating class at St. Cornelius Catholic School in Pennsylvania were given . . . while they sat on stage.
Each thin 10-inch-by-12-inch gray shield is, in essence, the chest plate component of a bulletproof vest, and if placed inside a bag, it could potentially save the person wearing it from being killed by a gunshot during a potential school shooting. They were given to each member of the outgoing class – plus an extra 25 to the school's faculty members – by Unequal Technologies, a local sportswear company whose CEO, Robert Vito, has a daughter at the school. Each one retails for $150, but schools can get them at a discounted rate of $99.
"It's sad the times have called for such a product to be invented, but we have answered the call," Vito, standing among the students as the shields were handed out, said at a press conference.
The reactions of the students as they investigated their parting gifts, ones they'd be taking with them to high school in the event of a deadly school shooting, were distressing.
As Jacob Nicosia, one of the graduating middle schoolers, said simply: "I never thought I'd need this."