BERNALILLO, N.M. (KRQE) – Following several school shootings in the state over the last decade, law enforcement and educators are teaming up to find new ways to make schools safer for students and staff in the state’s first-ever Safe School Summit. “I think that the discussions that have been had have been heavy, very emotional, but at the same time this is a message of hope,” said New Mexico Lt. Governor, Howie Morales.

Nearly ten years ago, a school shooting at Roswell’s Berrendo Middle School left two students severely injured, and a city in shock. One of those students who was left partially blind after the shooting, Nathaniel Tavarez, is now in college.

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When Tavarez is not studying, or knee-deep in homework, he spends his time speaking with students, educators, and law enforcement on how to make schools safer from gun violence. “We don’t want any student, any family, community, of any sorts to ever have to experience such a tragedy like that, and so I’ve made that my personal mission moving forward to really challenge myself to do exactly that,” said Tavarez.

At Monday’s summit, Tavarez shared his experiences and suggestions, in a discussion on what tools and resources schools can use to reduce gun violence on their campus. “I knew moving forward that I needed to share my story in a way that I could help to make a difference, bring together this community in order to make that difference, and find a way that we can bring safety to all of our students,” explained Tavarez.

Tavarez hosted a panel of several New Mexico students from around the state during the event, asking them for ideas. Most of them agreed that newer technology and crisis training would help ease their minds. Those ideas included things such as ID cards to get into school entrances, improved school shutdown drills, and keeping a close relationship with local law enforcement. Others argued their schools are in need of more funding to even begin thinking about implementing those resources.

“Really getting ahead of the problem, and that’s what’s being integrated now that I am looking forward to, the additional advancement, but I can see where they made the changes so far and I’m glad to see that,” added Tavarez.

Tavarez has plans to continue advocating for safer schools and to attend another discussion about school security in the coming weeks. The summit was sponsored in part by the Lieutenant Governor, New Mexico Department of Education (NMPED), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and is meant to connect all agencies so they can network and give schools the resources they need.

More than 300 people attended the first day of the event, which runs through Wednesday.