Eighth graders at St Cornelius School in Chadds Ford have been given bullet proof shields for their backpacks as graduating gifts before heading off to high school.

Rob Vito, president of Glen Mills-based Unequal Technologies, the firm that developed the 10-by-12-inch plates, donated the shields. His daughters attend the school.

"Handguns are useless against a product like this. Shotguns are useless against a product like this," said Vito, according to news reports.

The 15 students received the unusual gift on Monday.

The donation follows a spate of  high school shootings around the country that have claimed at least 29 lives since Jan. 1, including 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and 10 people at the Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas.

"I never thought I'd need this," graduating eighth grader Jacob Nicosia told Fox29.

"We can't say 'It won't happen here' anymore. It happens in big cities and in little towns," principal Barbara Orsini told the Chester County Press. "But this product, I believe, is something that could help our children be safer."

Vito also donated 25 of the shields, which retail for $150, to staff at the school.