Wednesday, August 12, 2020
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A student from S.C. writes to Stoneman Douglas

In “An open letter to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” Gracie Bryant, the editor at The Prowl student newspaper from Chapman High School in Inman, South Carolina, says she hopes we can turn to love and acceptance in order to move past the tragedy that befell students, teachers, and the entire community of Parkland, Florida, last week.

To the students that go to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, from one high school student to another: I’m so deeply sorry. I’m sorry that your everyday place, where you spend so much of your time, now has these deeply disturbing images attached to it. I’m sorry that your 15-minute countdown to leave school turned into an eternal dread of that time of day because of the memories that are now tagged along with it. …

As for the United States, I pray we turn to love. Some may not, and for that, I apologize. I wish there was one law to fix everything, but there isn’t. The problem lies within the heart of our country, the morals and things we lift up. … I pray we begin to lift up acceptance, that we become a nation of peace and love, understanding that we each differ but can still be a community, that we can still be one.

I can’t stress this too much: Voxitatis has advocated for additional counselors at high schools, we have advocated for tougher gun laws, and, most of all, we have advocated for turning our focus away from test scores, especially international ones, and toward joy, happiness, and love.

Add “acceptance” to that list, as Ms Bryant so eloquently expresses in one of the most open and heartfelt student opinion pieces I’ve read about the Stoneman Douglas shooting—and I’ve read several hundred so far.

There is a national call for a walkout and a GoFundMe page for the victims, but as Ms Bryant so calmly says, there isn’t a law we can write to stop what happened.

“These tragic events are ingrained into the fabric of America,” writes Camilla Breen in The Lion, the student newspaper at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois. “Columbine, recognized as the first modern-day school shooting, transformed the idea of mass shootings and changed school security as we know it today. Even with zero-tolerance rules in place in a majority of US states, school shootings still seem to occur. We can even see this near us, at places like Hinsdale South, where a student threatened to ‘shoot up’ the school in 2016.”

We are desensitized in some ways, but students at Stoneman Douglas, those who survived the school shooting, are calling “BS” on that kind of talk. Now is the time to change.

Others have advanced the argument that if the killing of 6-year-olds at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 didn’t bring about a movement to make a reasonable effort, either through love, through laws, or both, to curb the gun violence, nothing ever will. More BS.

The thing is, 6-year-olds are cute, too young to die, funny, and so on, but high school kids have lives and can boast of accomplishments. They can write and speak eloquently in front of CNN cameras. They can make an argument and “call BS” on all the stale arguments of politicians. And they’re doing it. Quite often, their words contain a hint of a solution.

To join Ms Breen once again at Lyons Township, “This needs to stop, and stop now. Everyone deserves the right to feel safe in our country, no matter where they are. The next time something like this occurs, I don’t want to see your thoughts and prayers; I want answers, and I want change. We cannot advance as a society if we are held back by age-old amendments and ideas that are making the public unsafe for everyone.”

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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