Student shot in school cafeteria disciplined for protesting shooting

Cooper Caffrey, of Cincinnati, has a perspective on school shootings that you don’t, unless, of course, you’ve been shot while eating chicken mcnuggets in your school’s cafeteria.

Perhaps you remember him from the time he spoke in court to the kid who shot him.

So it was no-brainer this month when students staged a nationwide walkout at their schools for 17 minutes, memorializing the people killed at a Florida school shooting, and making clear that they would like safer schools.

For his effort, young Cooper and a few dozen other students got detention.

And, for the most part, they’re good with that.

Without punishment, his father says, the walkout would have been meaningless.

The school says the student council met with administrators several times before the walkout and decided that because the protest would be seen as advocating gun control in a blood red area of the country, they wouldn’t walk out. They would wear school colors and stickers — the physical equivalent of changing social media avatars — instead.

“He’s always hated the attention from all of this,” Marty Caffrey tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I know that he really just wanted to pretend that day never happened.”

The high school principal made an announcement to all students about the significance of why some were wearing the Florida school’s colors.

He also told students they would be punished for any activity that disrupts the school day.

Cooper was pissed, he texted his dad, because they were telling him what to do. And pissed because he cared.

Later that morning, he and 42 other students walked outside into the school’s courtyard. This is where officials shepherded them because they felt the front of the building would be too dangerous.

But the students tried to get to the front flagpole anyway, as school resource officers commanded them to stop. They made it to the side of the building, where administrators finally corralled them.

The students concluded their 17-minute demonstration in prayer.

“We are a society of rules,” a school board member said at a meeting this week at which he demanded the students apologize to the school “resource officer.”

Cooper immediately turned to his dad, who said he saw the blood seemingly drain from his son’s face.

“It was like being shot all over again,” he would later tell his dad about French’s words. Back on the cold floor, looking for help.

As the school board moved on and began discussing a program that could arm teachers, Cooper put his head in his hands. He looked at his dad again:

“We should come to every single one of these things so that doesn’t happen.”

The next day, he brought a petition to school and started gathering signatures.

School shootings can move school administrators to act sometimes. But nothing gets their dander up like kids with a mind of their own.

Related: School safety plan presented (Pioneer Press)