Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that took the lives of 17 people, students in Colorado and across the country have organized to call for an end to gun violence. This Saturday, March 24th at Denver’s Civic Center Park, hundreds, if not thousands of people are expected to join together in the March for Our Lives to show their support. During the recent National School Walkout an estimated 10,000 students in Denver left their classrooms to both honor the victims in Parkland, Florida and to make their voices heard on the need for increased gun safety. Students at East High School gathered outside their campus before walking to the Colorado State Capitol to speak their truth. Below are the words of two members of the school’s Student Council who addressed their fellow classmates, faculty and community members.
On April 20th, 1999, most of us hadn’t even been born yet.
That date marks the Columbine High School shooting, a massacre. This tragedy devastated our world, our nation, and our families, because nothing like this had ever happened on such a large scale before. Since Columbine, there have been over 200 school shootings in the United States.
We’ve been existing in a world of violence since we were born. Our call to action today is to honor the students who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. I wish I could say that was the last school shooting between then and now, but I can’t. There has been an average of one school shooting a week so far this year.
When did that become normal? Where did the value of human life go?
All of us decided to walk out to symbolize a united front against the senseless violence that has become normal in our country, our communities, and our schools. All across the nation there are students, teachers and parents standing in solidarity begging for change because lives lost at the hand of a gun are lives taken too soon.
Each of these kids had a life just like us. They all went to school every day, had friends, had families, people who cared for them and people who they cared for.
These were kids just like us. These kids could have been us.
So we’re here to send a message.
No one should have to walk down the hallway in fear that they will be next. No one’s child should become another statistic. No one should have to explain why their livelihood is important.
We are honoring ourselves as students today because we hold the answers, and we are what inspires change. What we have to say matters, our voices will be heard and they will echo. We are here to reclaim our lives as important, and advocate for the lives of those lost to senseless gun violence.
We ask you now to join us in a moment of silence to remember the 17 individuals whose lives were lost in Florida.
Alyssa was a dedicated soccer player, and the captain of her team. She had been playing since she was three years old. Alyssa Alhadeff was 14 years old.
Scott Beigel was a geography teacher, cross country coach, and camp counselor. He died protecting his students from gunfire. Scott Beigel was 35 years old.
Martin Duque Anguiano
Martin was a member of JROTC and a loving friend. His brother described him as “a very funny kid, outgoing but sometimes really quiet.” Martin Duque was 14 years old.
Nicholas was a star swimmer and the captain of his team. He had just committed to swim at the University of Indianapolis. He dreamed of swimming at the 2020 Olympics. Nicholas Dworet was 17 years old.
Aaron Feis was an assistant football coach. He was a hero to many students, including a football player he helped through cancer treatments. Feis died as he lived, shielding and saving students from the shooter. Aaron Feis was 37 years old.
Jaime was a passionate dancer and community member. She was a member of the Best Buddies Program and the Friendship Initiative, nonprofits that help kids with disabilities. Her father described her as “vocal, passionate, and energetic.” Jaime Guttenberg was 14 years old.
Chris Hixon was an athletic director and wrestling coach. He was also a Naval reservist and was deployed to Iraq in 2007. Hixon attempted to disarm the gunman and died protecting his students. Chris Hixon was 49 years old.
Luke is remembered as an incredibly loving son and brother. He also loved to play basketball. Luke Hoyer was 15 years old.
Cara was a talented Irish dancer and a loving family member. Cara Loughran was 14 years old.
Gina participated in many activities both in and out of school. Her favorites were color guard and illustrating. She was also a Girl Scout, and she volunteered with her local church. Gina Montalto was 14 years old.
Joaquin loved football, basketball, and hip-hop. In his honor, his father painted a mural in an art exhibit organized by basketball star Dwyane Wade. Joaquin Oliver was 17 years old.
Alaina was dedicated to service: she was a member of the JROTC program and a volunteer with her church. Through Mormon Helping Hands, Alaina volunteered to help the victims of hurricane Irma. Alaina Petty was 14 years old.
Meadow planned to attend Lynn University in the fall. She is remembered as always having a smile on her face. Meadow Pollack was 18 years old.
Helena loved music, especially K-Pop. She also loved her cats, caring for 13 at one point. She died protecting a friend, and she is remembered as selfless and funny. Helena Ramsay was 17 years old.
Alex was a passionate musician, playing in both a marching and concert band. His marching band won the state championship in Tampa last year. He played the trombone and the baritone. Alex Schacter was 14 years old.
Carmen was one of ten Douglass students to be a National Merit Semifinalist. She was described as “witty, smart, and insightful.” Carem Schentrup was 16 years old.
Peter was a member of JROTC and has been posthumously admitted to West Point University. He died to save his classmates, holding the door open so others could get to safety. Peter Wang was 15 years old.
Regardless of whether or not you choose to participate in the March for Our Lives this Saturday, readers are encouraged to emulate our city’s student leaders and take time to remember those above who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of East High School