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Students Join National Movement Demanding Change

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A sign made by a WSHS student.

A sign made by a WSHS student.

A sign made by a WSHS student.


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February 14th, 2018. A day that will forever live in infamy in our minds and in history. On this Valentine’s Day, love wasn’t the only thing in the air at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The sounds of bullets being fired rang through the air accompanied by blood curdling screams and sobs. On this day, Nikolas Cruz went into his old high school, pulled the fire alarm and, using an AR-15, open fired into the 2nd and 3rd floor classes of one of the school’s buildings. He killed 17 students and staff and injured 16 in six minutes and 20 seconds.

Once the smoke cleared from this horrific tragedy, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas began standing up and speaking out. They created the #NeverAgain, #EnoughIsEnough, and #MarchForOurLives Movements on Twitter, demanding change in school safety and gun laws. The movements transferred to the news nationwide, initiating the National Student Walkout on March 14th, the nationwide March for our Lives march on March 24th, and multiple had televised conferences with government officials. These students decided they couldn’t just stay silent after watching their friends and teachers be killed. They couldn’t let them die in vain. Their deaths needed to mean something, so they decided to initiate change. Whether it just be improving school security or fighting for gun reform in Washington D.C., students here at WSHS and across the nation now have a powerful voice and are using it to speak out.

On March 14th, 2018, WSHS students, along with schools across the nation, were able to take part in National Walkout Day to support the Never Again Movement. The purpose of the walkout was not to protest issues of gun law reform; it was to memorialize the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting and use student voices to initiate change. It was a student organized and coordinated event that was supported by administration, who were involved to ensure students were safe and could use their first amendment rights without backlash. Students organized the meetings, made and sent out the schedule for the walkout, selected the speakers, and even invited government officials to attend the event. The overall supportive nature and involvement of the students contributed to the success of the walkout and the powerful speeches delivered by students.

Students at WSHS walkout.

The walkout began at 10am. Isabella Boutet, senior, initiated the walkout by making an announcement to head out to the pool area and get ready to use their voices. Once those who chose to participate were gathered outside, senior, Will Harrington, thanked the students who came for their support, and thanked the faculty and government officials for coming. He then introduced Brie DuMont, senior, who the read the names and ages of the victims of Stoneman Douglas. This moment was very powerful, as it made many realize how young these students were. It was followed by 17 seconds of silence for the 17 victims. After, five speakers, Emilia Caney, Nate Lapointe, Audrey May Avanzato, Ali Fatima, and Joseph Callahan spoke about improving school security so that no students should have to fear for their lives when going to school. They called for fellow students to use their voices to help create change.

The Never Again Movement was started due to the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas because, as many students from the movement say, a shooting “happened to the wrong school” because they’re not giving up on what they believe in. Student speakers at WSHS stressed the importance of the movement as there have been too many school shootings to count. One speaker echoed the message of MSD students saying, “The families of those killed in any school shooting need to know that they DID NOT die in vain, and that their death will mean something.”

For those who wanted to protest the issue of gun reform, there was another nationwide event, March for our Lives, on March 24th, 2018. The “mother” march took place in Washington D.C. along with 800 “sister” marches across the country. In D.C., students affected by gun violence spoke, including the students of MSD who started the Never Again movement. Emma Gonzalez, a MSD student known for her iconic “We Call BS” speech, gave a six minute and 20 second speech, four minutes and 20 seconds of that being silence. This was to represent the amount of time that Cruz was able to kill 17 people and injure 16 in Stoneman Douglas. Then there was 11-year-old Naomi Wadler, who gave a very powerful and tear-jerking speech. Also, the nine-year-old granddaughter of famous Civil Rights Movement leader, Martin Luther King Jr., Yolanda Renee King spoke to the enormous crowd, quoting her grandfather saying, “I have a dream that enough is enough.” Victims and victims’ families also contributed to the rally, one notable being a handful of Sandy Hook survivors, and the families of those whose lives were lost. Many celebrities also spoke and even performed. Miley Cyrus performed “The Climb” while other celebrities spoke to inspire the teens to not give up on this movement, and some spoke about their own experiences with gun violence. Over 200,000 people attended the Washington D.C. march, which makes it one of the largest marches in US history. The total number of people who participated in marches across the country made it the second largest march in US history.

A woman at the Boston march.

A little closer to home, marches took place in Boston, Springfield, and Northampton, Boston being the biggest of the three, consisting of over 100,000 people. Many students and faculty of WSHS attended, and some even ended up on the cover of the Boston Globe the next day. For those in attendance, it was an eye opening, inspiring, and truly awe-some event. There were many instances in which everyone was brought together in unison to show what they stood for and represented. Marchers chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go!”, “Vote them out!”, “Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!”, and the iconic, “Enough is Enough”. A man in the march was playing “This Land is Your Land” on guitar and everyone was singing along around him. Students were even handing out “price tags” with “$1.05”, which equates to the price that each student is worth once you divide those who have been killed in schools by how much money Marco Rubio has gotten from the NRA.

Students crowd at MFOL Boston.

A powerful moment occurred after the march, when protesters reached the Boston Common for the rally, students and adults were divided, and the students who marched walked a “red carpet” area to the front of the venue, cheered on by the adults and other students who didn’t march. This made the students who marched feel that they were important and what they had to say was valuable. The speakers were especially inspiring. Two Stoneman Douglas alumni and a student who was in a classroom during the shooting spoke. A teacher from the school who was previously in the military spoke out against arming teachers. Speakers in Boston, Springfield, D.C. and across the nation shared a common message: the need for gun reform and for teenagers to register (or pre-register) to vote so they could use their voices. They want to keep schools safe and keep “weapons of war” off the street. They ignored the anti-protest protesters and kept fighting for what they believed. They wanted to inspire students to keep fighting for change and not to stop until something is done.

Stage at Boston MFOL rally.

Many of the students from West Side who attended the march said the most inspirational quote was when the teacher said, “The opposing side may call you guys ‘snowflakes’, but you know what we New Englanders call snowflakes when they come together? A blizzard!” At that moment, it started snowing. The march, the walkout, and the movement is something that no student will ever forget, and because of students such as Gonzalez, Kasky, Hogg, and Corin, the movement will not end until change is made.

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