January 6, 2017 10:06:43 AM
The death of a 13-year-old New Hope Middle School student has led the Lowndes County School District to take initiative in promoting gun safety.
Spenson Bennett Jr., 13, died in a gun accident on Dec. 29 after a hunting trip in Noxubee County.
In light of the incident, LCSD Superintendent Lynn Wright told The Dispatch on Thursday the school district is working to prepare a gun safety assembly on all school campuses before the end of the second semester.
"It was a terrible tragedy," Wright said. "As a result of the accident, we want to make sure all kids are aware of the danger that can be involved with hunting and handling guns...especially in the South, where hunting is so prevalent, and a lot of kids (grow) up hunting and being around firearms."
He said the school district plans to ask representatives from the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office, the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the state's Safe and Drug-Free Schools program to attend the assembly and speak about general gun safety.
"We just want to make sure we're doing everything we can to prevent anymore tragedies like this," he said.
Wright said the school district has done gun safety programs in the past but not recently. He said gun safety training is often neglected, and it's important to be aware of the dangers of guns.
Shavonne Grassree, Bennett's aunt, said she is glad something good can come from her nephew's death.
"I think it'll be great because it'll teach a lot about safety of guns," she said. "It's something that needs to be done."
As his classmates attend the gun safety assembly later this year, they can remember their Bennett as the boy who loved to play basketball and football. But his friends, family and neighbors will also remember him as someone who was caring and handy, Grassree said.
She said Bennett took care of his grandmother, whose legs have been amputated, and he would help elderly neighbors by taking out their trash or raking their yard. She said he was a handyman, too, fixing things around the house and even putting together a swing set the grandkids got for Christmas by himself.
"He was just great," Grassree said. "He's going to be missed greatly. The community misses him already."
Bennett lived with his grandmother in New Hope. His funeral services will be held Saturday.
"I loved him real hard, and he loved everybody," his grandmother, Mary Bays, said.
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