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Superintendent of West Liberty-Salem Schools reflects amid the tragedy in Texas

Picture of a handgun on a desk next to ammunition.
St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office
Wikimedia Commons

A gunman killed at least 21 people on Tuesday at a Uvalde, Texas elementary school. 5 years ago, there was a school shooting at West Liberty-Salem High School in Logan County. Garrett Reese spoke with West Liberty-Salem’s superintendent about how staff who experienced the shooting in 2017 are responding to the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas.

On January 20, 2017, a 17 year-old student at West Liberty-Salem High School entered the building and shot a classmate multiple times. Staff members were able to to subdue the gunman and their classmate, though critically injured, survived the ordeal.

Kraig Hissong is the superintendent of West Liberty-Salem Schools. He’s been with staff members this week who were present for the shooting in 2017.

Hissong said the school-shooting in Texas was retraumatizing for them.

“Some of the anxieties that have gotten better over time, you know, from the trauma of that event from that day…they kind of resurfaced a bit," the superintendent said.

After the school-shooting in West Liberty, Hissong said things changed: there was more security, new windows, and an emphasis on safety training and mental health for students. Hissong encourages Uvalde, Texas to rally together as a community, just like Logan County did five years ago.

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.