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'I can't lose any more family': Teens address gun violence in Lexington

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 15:22:36-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — While the students at Lexington Traditional Magnet School near downtown Lexington spend most of their day inside the four walls of the school, they're also really tuned in to what's going on right outside of them.

So far this year, Lexington Police has reported 28 gun-related homicides, and eighth-grade writing teacher Sara Thornton said her kids are fearful.

"These are 13 and 14-year-old kids," Thornton said. "They should not have to be thinking or dealing with this. They should be able to just be kids and worry about school and going to football games and having friends and their social lives."

But, unfortunately, she said they are thinking and dealing with the reality of gun violence in their neighborhoods.

With encouragement from the director of ONE Lexington with the Mayor's Office, Devine Carama, and his "We Are ONE" stop the violence poem program, about 100 eighth graders put their emotions on paper.

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"Too many people have died by guns," Ms. Thornton read from one students' poem. "I can't lose any more family. My uncle, brother, cousin, gone too soon."

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"I will never be able to stop hearing that ring after that pop," eighth-grade student Dequaya Tucker recited from a poem she wrote. "Seeing my cousin's body drop."

13-year-old Dequaya Tucker said she was just seven when she saw her cousin get shot and killed. She's begging for the violence to stop.

"I really hope that it changes because nobody else wants to die," she said.

"Several of them in their poems have said that they want the old Lexington back which is powerful too because they're young," Thornton said. "They're eighth graders, but they can remember when it wasn't like this."

Thompson said by having kids talk about gun violence, she doesn't want to create fear, but rather raise awareness because that's how change happens.

"Guns are not the answer," Tucker said. "You don't need a gun. Maybe like you need help, talk to somebody. You don't need a gun to solve it. That doesn't solve anything."

The goal of the poem project is to amplify their voices in hopes of inspiring positive change.

One student will have the opportunity to read their work live on air with Jay Alexander & 107.9 The Beat.

Ms. Thornton has made this an annual project for her students.