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St. Mary’s H.S. welcomes Stop, Lock, & Drop It campaign to help students with gun violence trauma

By Melanie Johnson

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    ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — A new anti-violence and prevention team is putting a spin on pep rallies for students dealing with trauma.

“I talk to so many teachers and administrators where students are being killed, harmed and injured via gun violence. That impacts the student body and it impacts the way young people are thinking about to numb to gun violence,” said Zenique Gardner Perry of the St. Louis Area Violence Prevention Commission.

Perry is also one of the masterminds behind the fresh campaign called Stop, Lock, and Drop It.

The organization held a first-of-its-kind pep rally at St. Mary’s High School to help students deal with the aftermath of gun violence.

“We can’t ignore it, and we have to address it,” said Principal Valerie Todd. “The events at Central VPA were awful and so close to our location. We found out first because our kids knew, and so it did impact them.”

“We want them to see the light, and we want them to be hopeful,” Perry says.

The rally incorporated the generational predicaments, pop culture, mental health reminders, conflict resolution skills and ways to put an end to retaliation.

This comes after a teacher and student were killed by an active shooter at Central VPA High School in October.

Weeks later, St. Mary’s High School experienced a gun violence scare after receiving a school shooting threat.

“It was the last place I thought it would have been especially being so close to school. It was a tragic day,” said St. Mary’s senior Jamal Roberts.

“It does lend a different perspective when you have SWAT teams and all of that and how different students depending on their background react to that,” Todd said.

The Stop, Lock and Drop campaign’s name is derived from late St. Louis rapper, Huey’s, hit song, “Pop Lock and Drop It.” He was shot and killed in 2020.

The organization is scheduled to bring more healing events to St. Mary’s in collaboration with Dr. LJ Punch and The Black Healers Collective.

“It means a lot. St. Mary’s been through a rough path this year so just to bring the gun violence awareness and anti-gun violence spirit back. It just brighten our day,” Robert said.

“We want them to see the light we want them to be hopeful,” says Perry.

To schedule a pep rally or youth healing event, contact Zenique Gardner Perry at zenique@stlareavpc.org or visit stlareavpc.org

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