By Maya Shavit
“When we've had our say with the government — and maybe the adults have gotten used to saying 'it is what it is,' but if us students have learned anything, it's that if you don't study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead, so it's time to start doing something.” The words of Emma Gonzalez, a student in attendance on the day of the February Parkland school shooting, serve as a call to action for all people, but especially for youth.
The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, seemed to be a rude awakening for the people of the United States regarding the safety of the country’s public schools. Parkland’s tragedy occurred during school hours on February 14, 2018, when gunman Nikolas Cruz killed seventeen students and teachers.
In response to this horrific event, thousands of students in schools around the globe, including Council Rock North, banded together to attempt to forge a brighter future for their own schools. But how will this effect change? The students of Council Rock North joined those around the globe on March 14, 2018, intending to both stand in respect for those who died in the attack and to make a public call for reform as a united young generation. These two reasons in their own ways will work in concert to create change and a safer country.
The first reason why the public walkouts that occurred on both March 14th and March 24th were necessary is to stand with those who were killed in Parkland, Florida. The students of CR North felt that they needed to show their support for those who were victims of violence. Superintendent Robert Fraser reminded the community of this goal.
"[T]omorrow is a time for remembering lives lost on February 14 and/or non-political discussion around school safety.”
To honor those who were killed, students read the names of the seventeen victims at the top of every minute. By remembering those who had fallen, students can band together to bring about change.
In addition to respecting those who were killed that day, the students of Council Rock walked out of school to show others that they craved change. An anonymous CR North freshman felt the walkout was necessary to send a larger message.
“[I walked] out of school to make an impact. I wanted to be a part of a movement that, when many participated in it, would show our government that we need change. It was very important for me to leave the school because I wanted to show my support, and to have intentions in addition to mourning the victims. This action was important to me because as someone not old enough to vote, protest is the only way I have to make my voice the ‘loudest’ possible.”
And these senses of volume and activism may be the hallmarks of Generation Z, or those people born after approximately 2000. According to Generationz.com.au, those in Generation Z “have been born into the crisis period of terrorism, the global recession, and climate change.” Because this generation has been exposed in their early lives to immense global disparities in many forms, Generation Z is predicted to focus on renewal due to their technological and social advances. Thus, we already see how many students are making these changes politically and socially to challenge the “norms” and forge their own, unique paths of enlightenment.
Students around the nation stood in solidarity and in protest on both March 14th, and March 24th in response to the horrifying Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting that occurred in February. Despite this tragedy, young students are beginning to show how they can effect change and empower themselves through their actions. So be a part of the change, and recognize your own power to improve your world.