The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Steven DeCrescenzo:
2013 Winner
I.S. 141

Steven DeCrescenzo

Winning Essay

Better a thousand times careful than once dead. —Proverb

Panic. Gunshots. Death. These words hardly describe the evil that visited Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza, the killer behind the Newtown Massacre, brought 27 innocents to their death. Frankly, I believe that we have no choice: a couple armed, trained guards should be at every school. It is necessary to guarantee the protection of the most prized possession America has: our children, students, and future because it’s “better a thousand times careful than once dead.”

On the day of December 14, 2012, the world watched in horror as 20-year old Adam Lanza decided to take the lives of 27 innocent people. 20 of these victims were innocent six and seven year olds, first graders, experiencing their first joys of school. No longer will parents just drop their children off at school without a care. Our nation has been scarred permanently because of this random act of violence. In response, many people suggest that we put an armed guard in each school. A national debate is going on to decide if that is the contingency plan we need to protect our children. We’ve already lost approximately 297 students to school shootings since 1980, and every year we lose more. Our country, once a safe haven for adults and children alike, has gotten to the point where even children are targets of gun violence in school. Will putting armed guards in schools change that? The proverb above states that it is better to take a precaution than to suffer the consequences. Some supporters of armed guards in schools say that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Others say that armed guards in schools would cost too much money, might scare the children and might not succeed in the goal of protecting the children.

I think that having armed guards in schools is currently the best way to secure our students’ safety. These armed guards could be ex-soldiers or retired police officers. We could make jobs for the returning vets—which is also a problem that needs to be addressed—while putting someone in the school that has extreme training and real experience, and knows the signs of a suspicious person. Some wonder what is the guarantee that these guards would be able to successfully do what other armed guards have failed to do? For example, the 1999 Columbine High School Shooting was carried out by two inexperienced teenagers. As the Violence Policy Centre puts it, the Columbine guards were “outgunned by the assault weapons wielded by the two teens.” We can address that problem by arming the guards with semi-automatic weapons. Another argument is that it would cost too much money, money that we don’t have, to put a couple armed guards in each school. As complicated as the problem might seem, it bears a very simple counter-question: why are we putting a price on our children? Is this the response we would have if more children were murdered in cold blood? “Too much money” is no excuse. The arguments against armed guards in schools are not strong enough to counter the arguments for armed guards in my opinion.

It’s time to take a stand against school gun violence. We can’t put a price on America’s youth. It is inconceivable that we wouldn’t do everything in our power to protect our most vulnerable citizens. If the country is serious about addressing this problem, it should go to any length to protect our children, students, and future.



Hi, I’m Steven DeCrescenzo. I’m 13 years old and I am graduating from IS141 where I made many great friends and had great teachers, and had the best Principal and Assistant Principal. In September I will attend St. John’s Preparatory High School where I will be a member of the graduating class of 2017. I’m really looking to being in high school and hope to get to play baseball for my school. I have a strong passion for American History and hope to be a history teacher when I grow up. I also consider being a lawyer as well as service in political office. When I was little I wanted to be a doctor, and I haven’t decided against it, but my interests are in a few areas now. Three years ago I almost died from Crohn’s disease so everyday is important to me. I know that my health struggles will help me to do something great someday.

Baseball is my favorite sport. I am the starting second baseman on my team but also like to play catcher. It’s a wild dream but I would love a professional career with the New York Yankees, so I practice everyday.

My family means everything to me. My mother and father are always there for me and their love and encouragement helps me overcome what I need to and continue to look ahead during difficult times. They are the best. I have an older brother and two older sisters. They are my best friends—whether we are fighting or having fun. They help me when I need them. I love them so much.

I am so grateful to the Christopher Santora Scholarship Fund for the great honor of being a scholarship winner for 2013. When I heard that I was a winner I was so excited. I will always be proud to be a part of this. I will always remember that Christopher loved American history too, and if I become a history teacher, I will be sure to tell all my students about FF Christopher Santora and his part in American History.

This year my family has pledged to raise $50,000 for research for a cure for Crohn’s Disease and for Camp Oasis, a camp for kids with Crohn’s and Colitis. If you would like to help by making a donation or attending an event, please go to

Thank you, Santora Family!

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