The 8th grade class at St. Cornelius school in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania received a most unusual gift for graduation – one that they and their parents probably wish they didn't need: a ballistic shield that protects against bullets and slips right into their backpacks.
Rob Vito, one of the student's dads and the founder of Unequal Technology which has been known for (until now) its safety gear for athletes, gave the newly developed shields to the 15 graduating students.
Speaking at a graduation ceremony, Vito told the class "it's sad that times have called for such a product to be invented but we have to answer the call."
John Reynolds, a spokesman for Unequal, told CBN News that since Monday's ceremony and the resulting media coverage, Unequal has been fielding calls from interested schools around the country.
Reynolds said that Vito began to research development of the shields a year ago.
They're advertised online for a bulk discount price of $99 – much less expensive than bullet proof vests, and according to Vito, very effective. "Hanguns are useless against a product like this. Shotguns are useless against a product like this," he said.
The company also donated 25 shields to the faculty at St. Cornelius. The 10" x 12" shields are just a quarter inch thick and work in both directions.
FOX 29 reporter Bruce Gordon attended the ceremony and described parents as "both impressed and saddened" by the gift.
Dolores Vitale, a great-grandmother of one of the students said, "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."
Unequal is not alone in racing to meet a growing market for school safety products. The Guardian reports that sales of school security equipment reached $2.7 billion last year and analysts expect that number to increase in 2018.