DES MOINES, Iowa — It has been more than a month since 15-year-old Jose Lopez was killed and two other teens were injured in a shooting outside of East High School, but the pain still lingers over the community.

Des Moines Public Schools hosted a “community conversation” Thursday evening so people could discuss the trauma they feel and think of ways to make the school system safer and stronger going forward.

Associate superintendent Matthew Smith believes the conversation is necessary right now.

“I don’t think that we spend enough time trying to heal with one another,” Smith said. “Sometimes we try to go through that by ourselves in isolation, and that only gets us where we’ve gotten. If we’re going to change things, we have to do things differently.”

The crowd included a mix of adults and East High School students. Sophomore Devyn Sam hopes the event will help the older generation listen to their concerns more closely.

“I feel like we should have started this a long time ago,” Sam said. “I don’t think that situation had to happen for us to come together as a community. Now that it did happen, I hope it brings everybody to the realization that there is stuff that needs to be fixed at school.”

Des Moines Public Schools will host similar community conversations at its other high schools throughout May.

The other meetings are:

  • Lincoln High School – May 2nd
  • Roosevelt High School – May 3rd
  • Hoover High School – May 11th
  • North High School – May 12th

All of the meetings are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.