I Choose to be Happy: A School Shooting Survivor's Triumph over Tragedy
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Paris, Tenn. – Henry County High School students listen to school shooting survivor Missy Jenkins Smith and how she faces challenges

By Melanie Howard, Post-Intelligencer

Henry County High School students got a lesson in the repercussions of bullying Friday — from a person who suffered the consequences firsthand.

Missy Jenkins Smith was paralyzed from the chest down in December 1997 when she was hit by a bullet during a nationally-publicized school shooting in Kentucky.

Smith was a sophomore at Heath High School near Paducah at the time of the shooting.

She was one of five who were injured in the incident. Three students were killed.

She talked to students about the way she felt that bullying had affected the atmosphere at her school, ultimately ending in the shooting.

She recalled the events of the morning of the shooting.

Smith and a group of friends had just finished a time of prayer in the lobby of the school when a freshman, Michael Carneal, pulled a .22 out of his backpack and began shooting.

At first, Smith said she didn’t know what was happening and thought it must be some sort of prank.

“This can’t be real,” was her thought when she realized a fellow student had been shot in the head.

“My sister hovered over me and begged me to be strong and to please not die,” Smith remembered.

She said she’d had a class with Carneal and had always thought he was a nice guy.

She said she thought he was the last person who would commit such a crime.

She explained students often made fun of Carneal.

Though the boy pretended it didn’t bother him, he seemed to have a change in attitude in the days leading up to the shooting.

Carneal, who is now 30 years old, is serving a 25-year jail sentence.

Smith also talked to students about the challenges she now deals with on a daily basis because of her paralysis.

Along with students at HCHS, Smith spoke to ninth-grade students at Grove School and eighth-graders at Harrelson School on Friday.

Originally posted here.

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This Week’s Happiness Quote

“Just because you are happy it does not mean that the day is perfect but that you have looked beyond its imperfections."

― Bob Marley


Missy and her co-author, William Croyle, will be happy to accommodate you with interview requests. Please contact Mr. Croyle directly through his e-mail.