Graduating 8th grade class gifted bulletproof backpack plates before heading to high school

Local students have been outfitted with ‘ballistic shields’ for their backpacks as they get ready to head to high school next year.

FOX 29’s Bruce Gordon was at St. Cornelius in Chadds Ford Monday as graduating 8th grade students were given the bulletproof plates, all thanks to a local company.

St. Cornelius is located in just the kind of quiet, almost idyllic setting that we used to think made schools immune to violent acts like mass shootings.

The gift given to graduating 8th graders appears to be a clear sign that times have changed. The graduating 8th graders at St. Cornelius seemed unsure just what to make of their "welcome to high school" gifts.

It’s also the kind of gift they hope they’ll never have to use.

“I never thought I’d need this,” one student explained.

Glen Mills-based Unequal Technologies developed the ultra-thin Safe Shield and designed the 10-by-12-inch plate to be slipped into a backpack, which can then be used as the name implies.

"Handguns are useless against a product like this. Shotguns are useless against a product like this," explained Rob Vito, Unequal’s president.

Unequal donated the ballistic shields to the graduating 8th grade class and 25 plates were given to school faculty. Vito’s daughter attends St. Cornelius.

Parents and guardians seemed both impressed, and saddened, by the event.  

"You hear about these school shootings almost weekly, and I can't believe that's where we are in our nation today, but that's the fact," said one great-grandparent who was attending the event.

St. Cornelius already has tight security; visitors' driver’s licenses are taken at the front door and put through a computer database for criminal records and such.  Those with red flags are sent away.

Additionally, every classroom is outfitted with an extra deadbolt lock. There are the regular ones and a second that is mounted into the floor.

Principal Barbara Rosini knows the chances of a shooter targeting her school are microscopic.

"Anything that we can do to protect our children and our staff, that’s what we have-- that's my job, to try to protect them and I try to do the best I can," Rosini said.