Mass shootings shaped my school experience – Grand Valley Lanthorn

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Young voters have a chance to change this for the next generation of students

I was six years old in 2007. I remember when my mother picked me up from kindergarten and told me to shut up while the radio reporter described the scene on the Virginia University of Technology Campus. She didn’t want to tell me what had happened, just that people had been hurt.

I made the connection years later, in grade six, when my mom picked me up early in school. I only had one year out of primary school. 20 children were shot dead using an AR-15 legally purchased by the gunman’s mother in Sand hook primary school.

It was almost Christmas, and I remember looking at the glass snowflake ornaments hanging on the kitchen window as my parents hugged me in tears the next morning. At school, my early social studies teacher explained that the doors should stay locked now and answered our unanswered questions.

My school began to organize fire drills and practice active fire procedures, the doors would lock automatically, green plastic cards were placed on the windows, the police were banging on the doors and we sat in silence at the back of the building. the class.

In February 2018, 17 students were killed by a former student using an AR-15 style pistol legally purchased in the Parkland School Shooting.

I will never forget my English class that day my teacher had a discussion, rather than a regular class. She apologized to us, said that her generation had disappointed us and said something that I will never forget; that she has the opportunity to go to school and makes the choice to go back to her job every day and every year when we had no choice. It was a terrifying feeling, as more and more people were saying things like “it’s not a question of if, but a question of when”.

My backpack had a $ 0.06 price tag pinned on, my district hosted a To go for a walk. I took pictures for the school newspaper instead of participating, but I still cried while standing with my camera. I replayed what I saw on the news over and over again in my head. Then we went back to the classroom and I thought about what I would use to barricade the door to each classroom I had that day. My dad always got NRA magazine in the mail he told me if someone started shooting I should just hit the ground immediately.

In June 2018, I attended a student journalism conference in Washington DC. One of the speakers praised the work of the young people, calling us the “Parkland generation”. She thought of it as a compliment; that we were activists and agents of change. I left with the grim realization that the school shootings had defined my educational career.

I was a high school student in the fall of 2018 on worst year for school shootings in the United States I was waiting to be picked up when a student drove by and pointed his gun out the window. At that point, I thought ‘this is it, I’m getting shot “, and as the truck continued to drive away, I turned around and ran across the street, my sister and her friend following me.

They didn’t even realize what happened. The child did not shoot anyone. This is what each confinement felt.

This week, four Michigan students were shot and killed at school. A school just an hour from where I grew up. These kids probably grew up with some of the same Detroit metro traditions that I did.

There are 82 Oxford graduates here at Grand Valley State University. Schools in Michigan, including my old high school, were closed, evacuated, and locked down over the next few days due to threats. The trauma of this tragedy will impact students in our communities and throughout our state for years to come.

When I was in high school I thought I wouldn’t have to worry about shootings after graduating, but that’s not true. You always think about your younger sister and her friends, and the kids you train in the summer, and you still hate going to movie theater and shopping malls and you are not wearing headphones in the grocery store more.

‘What would I do if someone started shooting at present? You think about it church, as you walk to class and whenever you hear running in the hallway during class. You wonder if things will ever really change.

I still want to believe what I did three years ago. I firmly believe that Gen Z, especially those of us currently in high school and college, have so much power to create change.

In 2018, 58% of people under 30 supported a ban on assault weapons, while 73% said gun control laws should be stricter. However, 18 to 24 year olds have the lowest participation rate by age group. While turnout in this age group increased for the 2020 presidential election, only about half of eligible voters turned out to vote.

Young voters can use their vote to reduce and prevent such tragedies from claiming the lives of more children, but it doesn’t stop there. We can reach out to our representatives on issues like gun control and mental health resources, let them know we want to see change and that we are monitoring and holding them accountable.

Another generation of students and teachers need not lose their lives and be traumatized by inaction. It is time to act and make a difference. We need to build on our experiences as students, listen to current students and teachers, and vote for leaders who put the lives of students and teachers ahead of the politics of powerful parties and PACs like the NRA, and fight against gun violence and mental health with policies.


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