High school senior decorates graduation cap with QR code that leads to list of students killed in school shootings

PHOTO: High school senior Gina Warren, 18, decorated her graduation cap with a QR code that leads people to a list she created of all the American high school students who have died in a school shooting since Columbine in 1999.Playvia Gina Warren
WATCH News headlines today: May 16, 2019

A graduating high school senior from Ohio has found a creative way to raise awareness on how gun violence is affecting her peers.

Gina Warren, an 18-year-old student at Teays Valley High School in Ashville, created a QR code that takes users who scan it with the camera on their phones to a list of names of all the high school students in America who have died in school shootings since the 1999 Columbine shooting, she told ABC News. The list ends with the name of Kendrick Castillo, the "hero" student who died last week in the shooting at the STEM School in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

Warren then printed out a blown-up image of the code and glued it to her graduation cap, she said. After the code is scanned, it takes users to the website Warren created that states, "I graduated. These high school students couldn't."

Warren said her decorative prowess was inspired by the students who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last year, who spray-painted the tops of their caps in orange, the color chosen by gun violence awareness advocates.

"I wanted to spread a message to anybody who saw it," she said.

Her method worked. A video Warren posted to Twitter on Thursday that demonstrates how it works had been viewed more than 3.72 million times as of Tuesday afternoon.

Warren said she wasn't expecting her tweet to gain so much traction, but said she's "really happy" that it has gotten the conversation started.

The teen has received responses from the family and friends of the victims, who expressed gratitude because "they felt that the tragedy was forgotten," Warren said. She also got a message from a police officer who responded to one of the shootings, who thanked her for her efforts, although it breaks her heart to think about that "terrible" day.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the grassroots organization for Everytown for Gun Safety, described Warren's initiative as a "creative and effective way" to "let adults know that our nation's gun violence crisis is unacceptable and must be addressed."

"It is incredibly sad that high school seniors are worried about gun violence on graduation day, instead of feeling the safety and support needed to pursue their dreams," Watts said in a statement. "But make no mistake: the next generation has issued a clarion call for action that, if unheeded, will cost lawmakers their jobs.”

Warren's high school graduation ceremony is on Sunday, and she plans to major in communications at the University of Cincinnati, she said.