In the aftermath of last week’s tragic massacre of 17 students and faculty member at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., high school students from throughout Florida and across the country have mobilized, urging local and federal governments to ensure that mass shootings will #NeverAgain be part of the national narrative.
RaiseMe’s Editorial Interns shared their thoughts on the tragedy, and on the role of high school students and other young people organizing in response to the events. Here’s what they had to say:
“High school students have strong and valid opinions that should be heard”
What happened in Parkland is an effect of the type of world we live in today. Mental illness is at a high and people are focusing on the wrong aspects in order to fix these problems. High school students should voice their opinions. They’re the next generation to come into power and to rule this country and hopefully make it better than it is. Voicing their opinions and feeling safe to do so is a strong step towards a better future. We shouldn’t be shushing people away or telling them they’re too young, they have strong and valid opinions that should be heard. –Madison Barker, Sophomore at Rouse High School, Leander, Texas
“Another massacre cannot be allowed to happen”
The recent tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was absolutely horrific, but the most horrendous part was the fact that it could have been prevented. There were numerous signs that authorities should have picked up on: his threatening YouTube comment, his gun-toting Instagram account, and a direct tip to the FBI. On top of that, simple gun control laws would have prevented such a terrible event from ever occurring. If a person is not even allowed to consume alcohol, why are they allowed to purchase and handle an assault rifle? Why are there weapons available that are stronger than the guns police carry available to the general public? The nation’s reaction is completely appropriate: young people need to be speaking out about this. If we are the future, then we need to take action, and we need to fight for gun control laws. Another massacre cannot be allowed to happen. –Alexa Bolnick, Junior at Indian Hills High School, Oakland, New Jersey
“High school students are the generation to push Congress to make the right changes to protect not only schoolchildren, but everyone in this nation”
The students of the Parkland, Florida high school affected by gun violence have every right to voice their opinions after losing 17 classmates to a former student that shouldn’t have had access to buying a gun. These students are at the age to make a difference by simply voting. They also can make a difference by marching on Washington or holding peaceful rallies to get the attention on gun violence and not just gaining the sympathies of others who don’t act on their word of desiring change. The students have every right to protest and support activist movements. Cameron Kasey, a survivor, created his own movement, “Never Again.” His goal is to bring attention to stronger gun restrictions and to push everyone into wanting to change the laws to keep everyone safe. High school students are the generation to become the new voice and push Congress to make the right changes to protect not only schoolchildren, but everyone in this nation. – Erin Randstrom, Senior at Carl Sandburg High School, Orland Park, IL
“Not only is it a gun rights issue, but it’s a mental health issue, a societal mindset issue, and a national security issue”
School should be a safe, positive environment. Attacks on our schools jeopardize this environment. It is unacceptable that students keep dying in this way, and something should be done about it. That being said, this is a multifaceted problem that requires comprehension on many levels. Not only is it a gun rights issue, but it’s a mental health issue, a societal mindset issue, and a national security issue. I think it is fascinating to see students, some only 15 years old, voicing their opinions so soon after the Parkland tragedy. These advocates remind us that young voices are imperative in society and can encourage all of us as students to take a stand on pertinent issues. It is essential for students to take a position and develop our ideologies early on so we can start participating in the world we live in much earlier. –Katherine Keber, Senior at Tinora High School, Defiance, OH
“We haven’t exhausted our means to limit tragedies like Parkland”
I think that while the events in Parkland and many other places are tragedies, there are means to limit these that we haven’t exhausted yet. I’ve seen comments on videos of young people speaking out and calling on Congress to do something about the violence saying that they’re “too young” and “don’t know what they’re talking about” and that they need to “let the adults worry about it.”
We want the adults to worry about it! They are calling on adults to take the steps to help protect them from senseless violence! My generation is the future. I don’t know why *our* future has to be ruined before it even starts because of rich white men and their severe lack of empathy. We want *adults* to do something worthwhile if they’re not going to let us have a say in our own future. Lois Miller, Senior at Roanoke High School, Roanoke, VA
“Everyone always says high school students are the future, so why are we always expected to be silent?”
I currently live in Florida, so when I got the news about the Parkland school shooting that happened no more than four hours away from me, I was at a loss for words. Seeing the surviving, grieving, and angry students of Stoneman Douglas High School bravely speak in front of hundreds of cameras and millions of eyes to condemn Donald Trump, Congress and the NRA for their lack of action to stop this from happening again, filled me with joy. Yes, high school students, especially these high school students, should be voicing our opinions on national issues. We are the ones that will be directly affected by the issues and decisions being discussed. We are the rising generation whose lives and careers and futures depend on the current state of the government and the world. Everyone always says we’re the future, so why are we always expected to be silent? Tiffany Carbon, Senior at Dr. Earl J. Lennard High School Ruskin, FL
“Someone I knew passed away”
Parkland is 45 minutes away from me, my step sister went to that school, I have friends that go there, someone I knew passed away. We are so used to seeing tragedies like these and thinking “well it wasn’t me” and this time I couldn’t even fathom that thought because it was right on our backyards. The atmosphere in Florida school districts is so somber right now, the day after the shooting, I had to sit across from my beloved law teacher as he said to me “I would take a bullet for you” which is something no kid should have to hear. Today some of my peers and I organized and successfully participated in a walk out protest, signs were made and seeing the entire school walk out unified on one cause hand in hand with staff and administration was beautiful. I’ve never been more proud of my student body. Alexa Baez, Junior at Alonzo and Tracy Mourning Senior High, North Miami, FL
“The tragedy in Parkland was a spark that lit a wildfire”
The tragedy in Parkland was a spark that lit a wildfire. As a student in South Florida, I am directly affected by students’ reactions to the shooting, and I am proud to be a part of my generation.
The Parkland shooting launched a unanimous decision by United States high schoolers: we will no longer stand for gun violence within school parameters. We should not be afraid to learn. We should not be afraid to walk into our halls. We should not be afraid for our friends’ lives.
Everything happens for a reason. The events at Parkland, as heart-wrenching as they were, launched students into the political world. We are now more politically aware than any other American generation. – Hannah Butcher, Senior at Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL
“A life matters WAY more than an ego does”
My thoughts on the tragedy in Parkland are very sad. Death, in general, caused by another person is injust. A life matters WAY more than an ego does! A life matters because it was born for a reason. The reactions after the events are what would be expected because many parents, as one would expect, reacted in such a shock that had a grief wondering if their kid made it out or not. High school students voicing their opinion is something that will make an impact. We are what will make this future better. We are the people who will either lift or bring down the country. WE are the ones living in OUR future. – Valeria Witron, Sophomore at Royal High School, Royal City, WA
“I shouldn’t walk through my school day, and know, automatically, where the best place to hide is”
I should never feel afraid to walk into my school building everyday. I should never have to tell my parents that I love them with as much force as I do in the mornings because it could be the last time I say it. I shouldn’t walk through my school day, and know, automatically, where the best place to hide is. I shouldn’t feel afraid to go to school. I’ve been told that if a shooting happens at a school, the possibility of it happening again at the same school decreases severely. In 2012 there was a shooting at my high school, I was in 5th grade at the time. It doesn’t scar me as much as it scars the kids who were there that day, but there are nights where I wake up in a cold sweat after having a dream that it was me there or that it happened again. When my safety and others are at risk in an environment that I am in almost every single day, then yes, as a student, I get a say in this political issue. – Jillian Murphy, Sophomore at Normal Community High School, Normal, IL
“This may be the most powerful reaction I have ever been lucky to witness”
I think the actions that took place in Parkland, Florida were absolutely disgusting, but the following reaction has been incredible. Obviously this is a difficult topic to talk about, which is exactly why we should be talking about it. I’ve lived through a horrible amount of similar tragedies in my life, but the response to this one may be the most powerful reaction I have ever been lucky enough to witness. The best part is that it is, in large part, led by high school students. We have grown up and live in the information era, yet our opinions are still trivialized. I strongly believe that will change this year. We are already making a difference in this country, and in this world, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of it. – Kasey Hegland, Junior at Buffalo High School in Buffalo, MN
“It’s time that our country takes students seriously when it comes to political and social issues that they feel strongly enough about to speak up in a mass outcry such as this”
I believe that it’s the obligation of students to be well-versed in national issues that affect our communities and our society as a whole. Students of all ages should be allowed, and even encouraged, to voice their opinions on national issues like this, especially when those students are the future of our country’s political arena. The tragedy in Parkland represents the need for stricter gun reform and high school students around the country, especially those in Parkland, are fed up with the current political stagnation around gun reform. I believe that it’s time that our country takes students seriously when it comes to political and social issues that they feel strongly enough about to speak up in a mass outcry such as this. – Jon Covert, Freshman at Champlain College, Burlington, VT
Interested in voicing your opinions and urging politicians to take action on the issues that matter? Read RaiseMe Editorial Intern Lauren K.’s blog post on how to stay politically active in high school. Want to show your support and stay up to date with the #NeverAgain movement? Follow @NeverAgainMSD on Twitter.