Corpus Christi (KIII News) — Over 900 school districts from across the state came together Monday for the Texas School Safety Conference in Corpus Christi.

The four-day conference invites school officials and law officers all across the state to share their ideas on how to better protect students.

"I thought this would be a good conference to come to gain some more information, to see what I can take back to implement," T.J. Rucker said.

Rucker made the six-and-a-half hour drive from Jacksonville, where he serves as principal at an alternative school that helps students overcome obstacles they face in their daily lives.

"We see that with depression, anxiety, the things we see at our campus," Rucker said.

The statewide conference brings school officers, educators and administrators in one room to share ideas in hopes of creating a safer environment for everyone.

"Everybody sees the importance of it. We can't back down. We cannot become complacent about this very, very important issue," Dr. Cissy Reynolds-Perez said.

From school violence to Hurricane Harvey victims, the conference is opening the dialogue.

"We talk about anything we can to make our schools safer," Reynolds-Perez said.

Students are now adding to the discussion.

"We have to have this planning and all these brainstorming ideas just to get something, some action, to make the next year a lot better than the year we just had," said Juan De la Garza, a Ray High School alumnus.

De la Garza plans to attend Rice University in the fall and is proud to be a part of the student movement.

"You know I just graduated, and I've seen freshmen, sophomore, juniors taking charge and doing a lot of things that are good for our school," De la Garza said.

De la Garza encourages others to speak up.

"Doesn't matter who you are, where you come from, as long as your voice gets out there, that's all that matters," De la Garza said.

Perez will learn more about grief counseling at an upcoming conference in Santa Fe where she plans to share that knowledge to create a better school environment for everyone.

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