Staples Grad: “We’ve Seen Enough”

Kellie Iannacone is a 2017 Staples High School graduate, now a 1st-year student at the Villanova University School of Business. She writes:

I was walking into a review session with my English professor when I got the text. It was from my younger brother, a sophomore at Staples.

His message read: “I’m freaking out”

Since leaving Westport to attend Villanova as freshman this fall, text conversations between my brother and I normally consist of a meme back and forth, or him looking for advice on what classes to take as a rising junior.

So when I received his message on Tuesday, I knew something was wrong.

Before I even had time to respond, a screen shot of superintendent Palmer’s message to parents surfaced in my hometown group chat. I put 2 and 2 together, and was horrified.

I alerted my teacher. She was extremely understanding, letting me use my phone throughout the session and even offering to reschedule if I could not focus.

During the next few hours I felt a fear I had never experienced before. It’s like watching your worst nightmare play out in real life, and feeling that your heart may beat out of your chest. I could not rest easy until I heard from my brother he had made it through the front door of our house.

Kellie and Zachary Iannacone.

As I write this on my train ride to Westport for spring break, I know I could have been coming home to a completely different outcome. Rather than returning to a full household, I know I could have returned to my household minus one, my neighborhood minus one, my town minus one (or even worse, multiple people).

From hundreds of miles away, I told my brother I didn’t want him to go to school Wednesday morning. From hundreds of miles away I felt the pain, heartache and fear that my hometown was enduring. From hundreds of miles away I felt the need to run home, and shelter my brother and community from any future possible 

As a first year college student, my biggest worries should be trying to combat the freshman 15 and walking into the showers only to find they are all full. My biggest worry should not be that when I go back to school a a little over a week from now that my brother, my friends, and my former educators will possibly be taken from me before I return to Westport again. My biggest fear should not be that when I go back to Villanova I could face the same threats.

I want kindergartners to be able to play on the playground without fear a shooter will enter school grounds. I want middle schoolers to enjoy the new array of options in the cafeterias without fear that an intruder will come after them. I want high schoolers to get excited about going to college and finding themselves, not fearing that they may not even make it there.

Many people refer to us as living in the “Westport bubble.” That means we live in some form of perfected alternative reality, compared to the rest of the world. With the incidents last Tuesday, I believe that we are no different than the rest of the world.

Mass school shootings and gun violence are issues beyond our personal control. We are told “if you see something, say something,” but I think we can all agree we’ve seen enough.

I cannot stress more the need to pop this bubble, and let our voices be heard.

8 responses to “Staples Grad: “We’ve Seen Enough”

  1. Helen Glenn

    Beautifully written, Kellie

  2. Mary Cookman Schmerker SHS '58

    Eloquent. Expressed with tremendous insight and feeling. To think that there are those who believe that the teenagers and young adults are not capable of organizing a rally in Washington D.C….Well, it is obvious that they can and that they are very capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings with clarity and dignity. I have great confidence that when it is their turn to serve they will serve with honor and dignity that we do not always see in our elected officials today. Kellie, is there any chance that you are related to Richard Iannacone, Staples class of 1958? He lived close to where my family lived.

  3. Well said.

  4. Bill Boyd (Staples '66)

    It really is time to speak up against the horrors of unlimited access to weapons of crowd destruction. The younger generation can do this ! We all need to take part in this !

  5. Scott Broder

    Kellie, poignantly expressed.
    Sorry you had to experience the stress of this potential catastrophe but a blessing the system in place at Staples worked effectively. A lucky blessing that a brave student spoke up. Unfortunately our ineffective political houses in Washington and Hartford will likely give lip service verses effective gun legislation and protection for our schools. For real change to occur it will require continual pressure from the voters in future elections to elect representatives Not paid for by such lobbyists as the NRA. Kellie it’s important that you and your brother’s generations stay involved and actively vote for these changes.
    God bless you and your family and all those in our Westport community for protecting and responding efficiently in this circumstance at Staples❗️

  6. Phillip Perri

    This is not a singular story by any means. A close friend of my daughter (and an honorary daughter to our family) has missed an entire week of school because of anxiety attacks over the recent events. Thank God for the brave student who spoke up, and for the brave and swift action of the administration, teachers and first responders, but we adults should be ashamed to leave school security in the hands of a 16 or 17 year old. Please attend the public talk Wednesday, March 14th, 7:00 PM at Bedford Middle School, find out all the positives that the SRO program brings to other districts (it’s not just a “security guard”) and voice your opinion. There is also support building for locating police substations at each of our schools immediately. Officers coming off shift go to police headquarters to finish paperwork, etc. Instead the schools provide a small office at the school for this purpose and during the day these officers stop to do their administrative work before returning to headquarters. This can be done IMMEDIATELY while we debate longer term solutions. This can be done AT NO COST…..AT NO COST. All we are doing is shifting police presence from the least likely target in town to the most likely. Did I mention AT NO COST? With a reserved parking spot out front and a security pass around the school as they arrive, this gives us police presence at various times throughout the day and evening…AT NO COST. This is also a method to leverage and support the SRO officer(s) throughout all 8 schools if the program is adopted. It is my understanding that the Superintendent, a few RTM Members and Police Chief Koskinos support and have submitted this idea to 1st Selectman Marpe just last Friday.

    To our Honorable 1st Selectman; Dr. Palmer needs your very visible and voiced support on these initiatives. The substation idea can be done through your executive action today. Nothing is more important than the protection of our schools.

    To everyone else, please email Superintendent Palmer and the 1st Selectman to voice your support to get this in place TODAY.

  7. Phillip Perri

    It has come to my attention that part of my comment on March 3rd was based on my misread of certain communications I received on the police substation topic. I wrote: It is my understanding that the Superintendent, a few RTM Members and Police Chief Koskinos support and have submitted this idea to 1st Selectman Marpe just last Friday.
    I have now found out that, in reality, the flow of information was FROM the RTM member(s) and the 1st Selectman’s office TO Superintendent Palmer and Chief Koskinos for their comments on the proposed plan. to be clear, to date, neither Superintendent Palmer nor Chief Koskinos have endorsed the substation plan.
    I apologize for the error and any inconvenience or issue it may have caused.

  8. Note: I am very much in favor of gun control. I am also open to police in our schools, but think there needs to be considerable debate. But regardless, I also hope no one is frying this poor kid before facts come in. Due process of law has not yet been followed and until we know for sure what happened, a series of events may have started that was way out of proportion from reality. I worked for the innocence project some 25 years ago while a law student, and attended the Central Park Jogger trial on several occasions. Those boys that were “wilding” that night were definitely guilty. It was so obvious it seemed rape charges were a slam dunk. And they were. The boys were all 15 / 16 or so at the time and were convicted and sent to prison for a long time. Until, they were let go. Over 15 years later, I picked up the paper to discover that evidence had been suppressed and the boys were completely vindicated. Now in their 30’s, they had to start their lives. As a student, you have every reason and right to be scared. But if everyone hangs this kid before he receives due process, this will effectively destroy his near term future. And your brother or one of my three boys, two of whom are in Westport schools and one who will re-enter at Staples in the fall, are all at risk of being denied the same due process. I was freaked out that day, but facts are rolling out that don’t add up. I hope that as a student you will show the same activism I see across college campuses for doing what is right and required by law – that you will use the same zeal to protect those who are innocent until proven guilty, the same rights that you and your brother would want and that I want for my family and ALL members of society. I too am scared. But that started long before this recent scare, which may in fact only have been a scare.