NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — As Richneck Elementary School students await their return to the building next week, one 3rd grader has a message for Newport News Public Schools and the country.
10-year-old Kautier Brown heard chaos break out inside his school Friday when a 6-year-old student shot his first grade teacher, Abby Zwerner.
After what happened on Friday, he just wants to be safe at school. He decided to put his thoughts on paper so he could deliver a message to those in power making decisions about he and his classmates’ safety.
An outspoken 10-year-old
Kautier, who his mom describes as an outspoken and engaged kid, helped search for missing Hampton 4-year-old Codi Bigsby in February 2022.
The third grader loves football and plays for the Smithfield Packers. His favorite team is the Pittsburgh Steelers and he hopes to play for them one day.
He also loves learning math and science at school, and says he may even want to be a veterinarian.
Kautier says he didn’t want to share how he felt when the shooting happened because, in his words, “all of America at this point can understand how anybody would feel.”
For starters, Kautier has one main question for Newport News Public School officials.
“How are you going to keep us safe?” he said.
He does have some suggestions for them.
“They need to get more security guards and they need to set up some metal detectors and check the children’s bookbags and get their buzzers fixed and their cameras,” he said.
10 On Your Side saw Monday the buzzer on the front of Richneck Elementary School has a sign on it saying it’s experiencing technical difficulties.
“They better be fixed by Friday because if they don’t get fixed by Friday, then I’m not going to school next week,” he said.
Kautier says these changes are important for one main reason.
“School is not, school is for learning, fun and making friends. School is not a battleground,” he said.
In his own words
Kautier answered questions but also came to the interview with 10 On Your Side with a prepared message he said aloud and had his mom write down for him.
Parts of his message are included below and pictures of his full speech are included as well.
“My name is Kautier Brown and this is the first time some of you guys are hearing from me. This message goes out to the Newport News School System and to all of America. I don’t want to speak about how I felt about that day. I’m pretty sure all of the America at this point can understand how anybody would feel. I’ve listened to my mom cry about the incident. […] And I feel as if now it’s my time to speak up not just for my school, but for all the kids in America. Honestly, what has happened for you guys to put things into place to keep us safe. Not just the students but the teachers as well. Can you close your eyes and imagine you going to work and to just have a regular workday and then your regular workday sends you running for your life. You can’t imagine it right, so why should we? It is time to lace up and put boots to the ground. School is not, school is for learning, fun and making friends. School is not a battleground.”Kautier Brown, Richneck Elementary School 3rd Grader
Kautier says this is the first time the community will hear from him, but certainly not the last.