OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - At Oakland's Claremont Middle School, in eighth grade history, a class discussion unfolded about the mass killings in Las Vegas last Sunday,
The students were not only aware of the mass killings Sunday night, they had opinions about it. And they admitted they have their share of fear.
"There have been a lot of bad things happening. This was icing on the cake," one student said.
Another says his parents were in Las Vegas Sunday night.
"I was scared. I stayed up all night calling them," he said.
One eighth grader said "I was feeling helpless in a way. But also kind of feel lucky I wasn’t there. Any of us could have been there."
Teacher Laura Pollock holds weekly current events discussions, but perhaps none on a topic as bloody or horrifying.
"It is much better to give them a safe space where they can talk about it, work through it, rather than just ignore it," she said after class.
Part of the 40-minute discussion revolved around gun rights versus gun control.
"It makes me think about how many gun laws we have and why they didn't prevent this shooting," said one student.
The class then moved on to terrorism. Federal authorities say the gunman Stephen Paddock was not affiliated with any terrorist groups, but students felt he was still a terrorist, just apparently without a political agenda.
"That's definitely a terrorist attack. The only reason people aren't calling it that is that he is a billionaire white dude," said a student.
After class, students told us the discussion was worthwhile. They got to hear what the students thought, and that it was important for them to talk about tragic events even if they are only in the eighth grade.
"We are going to grow up and become adults. And if we don't know how the world works, we won't be able to function in it proficiently," said Siara Edmond.
"It’s important for us to be exposed to sad stuff. We're going to have to get used to it. This won't be the only time it happens," said Kai Nunez-Adler.
The teacher says if nothing else she hopes the students walk away feeling their opinions matter and can someday lead to change.