Friends and family mourn the loss of two Louisiana natives killed in Nashville school shooting
When a shooter opened fire on a Christian elementary school in Nashville, killing three children and three adults, hundreds of lives were changed for ever.
Here in Baton Rouge, family of Dr. Katherine Koonce, headmaster at The Covenant School, are mourning the wife and mother of two.
A graduate of the University High class of ’81, she went on to LSU and then Vanderbilt in Tennessee.
61-year-old Cynthia Peak, a substitute teacher, from the small town of Leesville in West Louisiana leaves behind three children. Her family had deep roots in the town and she frequently came back to visit.
“Little towns like Leesvile are very tight circles,” said Peak’s life-long friend Chuck Owen. “Even though Cynthia has been gone a long time, our community has stayed connected. We have a very active alumni association. People come back for homecomings and reunions and things like that.”
Owen and his sister grew up with Peak and saw her at their last reunion.
“She was a sweet person. She was a devout follower of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and she is going to leave a legacy of love. She leaves a husband and three children behind and brothers and sister who are going to grieve for a long time of course many of her friends are too. I am just grief stricken over it because she was such a good person.”
U High sent an email to parents and faculty in honor of Koonce on Tuesday:
Dear Cub Family,
We were deeply saddened to learn on the news of the tragic passing of Dr. Katherine Koonce, a U-High alumna and educator. She was the Head of School at The Covenant School in Brentwood, TN. As a Cub Community, we mourn our loss and offer comfort and prayers to her family and loved ones during this most difficult time.
Katherine attended LSU before transferring to Vanderbilt University where she earned a BS in Education. She also earned Master’s Degree in Education from Georgia State University and a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Research and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University. Katherine graduated from University Lab School in 1981. Her sisters also graduated from U-High: Jeanne in 1983 and Anne Louise in 1985. Katherine is preceded in death by her mother, Baton Rouge native and ULS alumna Anne Shirley, and her father, Richard James Shirley.
Any time there is an active shooter event, everyone’s attention is drawn to our own security measures. As evidenced by different drills conducted by law enforcement, a team of officers would be mobilized and on site in 30 seconds in the event of an incident. We have enhanced security features at our facility to neutralize a would-be attacker and we conduct drills periodically to ensure all staff and students know what to do in emergency situations. We are also upgrading our camera systems along with the LSU campus to incorporate smart surveillance features to our repertoire of safety enhancements. You will soon see a remodel of our entrance to establish a single point of entry and we will continue to utilize LSU PD to patrol our campus, inside and out, throughout the school day. Safety is our number one priority, and it is something we think about and plan around with safety experts. We pray for the best and plan for the worst. Thank you for trusting us with your children. It is not something we take lightly.
Yours in service,