8th-graders get bulletproof ‘Safe Shields’ as ‘welcome to high school’ gift

CHADDS FORD, Pa. -- A company is arming eighth-graders with bulletproof plates as their "welcome to high school" gift. Company representatives say it's the least they can do to keep kids safe as concerns grow over school shootings.

The graduating eighth-graders at St. Cornelius seemed unsure about just what to make of their gifts -- the kind they pray they'll never have to put to use.

"I never thought I'd need this, no," said Jacob Nicosia, student.

"It's sad that times have called for such a product to be invented, but we have answered the call," said Robert Vito, president of "Unequal."

The Glen Mills-based company developed the ultra-thin "Safe Shield" and designed the 10x12 inch plate to be slipped into a backpack, which can then be used as a safe shield.

"Handguns are useless against a product like this. Shotguns are useless against a product like this," said Vito.

"Unequal" donated the ballistic shields. The company president's daughter attends St. Cornelius, and 25 units were given to school faculty. Parents and guardians seemed simultaneously 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 Dolores Vitale, great-grandmother.

There's already tight security at St. Cornelius. 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. Every classroom is outfitted with an extra deadbolt lock -- a regular one and a floor-mounted one.

Principal Barbara Rosini said she knows the chances of a shooter targeting her school are microscopic, yet...

"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," said Principal Rosini.