On May 24, 19 students and two teachers were killed in the 212th mass shooting of this year. As graduation tassels are shifted from right to left and kids around the nation take their next steps toward adulthood, the transitional few months that every student looks forward to is summer.
However, the common thread between school shootings and mass media is they are easily forgotten. The school shooting in question is always triumphed by a worse event. Nevertheless, teachers continue to teach — but the impulsive thoughts of unsafety cloud their minds — ultimately impacting their learning.
To honor the victims of the Uvalde shooting and illuminate the realities behind gun violence, Cleveland High School in Reseda, Calif. planned a rally to protest. Spearheaded by Emma Shultz, a sophomore in the Humanities Magnet.
As thousands of high school students completed their fourth periods, instead of flocking toward their usual lunch spots, they approached the quad. A handful of students who are a part of the senior leadership team surrounded the stage with posters and five student speakers stood behind the stairs, awaiting their turn. There were twenty-one chairs with photos of the victims on the stage, honoring each one.
I sat down with Shultz to better understand her intentions for this protest and how she wove through the strict campus rules to make it a success. Initially, there seemed to be some struggles,
“At first, I wanted to plan a walkout, so I talked to the principal. She said we could do a walkout but she couldn’t guarantee we couldn’t get in trouble,” she said.
After some trial and error, Shultz and the Principle compromised on a protest during Lunch. Nevertheless, this hiccup worked in the passionates favor.
“A lot of people wanted to do a walkout but I think it was primarily because people wanted to ditch class,” Shultz said. “So, I thought the lunch event was more impactful because the people who were there actually wanted to make a change, be there and support.”
Surprisingly, the way I found out about this event was not through word of mouth, but through social media.
“I think that social media can be harmful but it also can be a good tool for activism. So I think it helped me reach as many people as possible,” Shultz said.
When talking to Shultz about her speech, it was different from the others, it addressed the Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. She mentioned how she was debating on writing to Ted Cruz or McConnell.
“Two controversial leaders,” Shultz said. “I was thinking about it and Senator McConnell truly has control of the Republican party — just like Trump.”
In the end, it is imperative that events like school shootings are not forgotten. Keeping this in mind, Shultz is looking forward to making Cleveland’s campus a safer place. Some of the older buildings on campus do not lock from the inside, and teachers lock them from the outside. In turn, Schultz did research on how to fix this issue.
“LAUSD has to approve it because there is a rule you cannot replace locks — but the school can approve locks that you put on doors within seconds and essentially lock it,” Shultz said. “I am trying to get those locks and buy them for the school.”
Shultz has also created a website with her initiative called Gen Z For Change. This website allows anyone to research and message Republican senators as well as see their NRA ranking.
Alas, this is a small but mighty step to get individuals of all ages involved in making a difference. For more information on her initiative visit — Gen Z Crusade.
So, small changes are being made, but what about on a larger scale?
The U.S. reputably has a strong amount of gun culture, so banning weapons seem unrealistic. However, if the conversation is only relevant after a disaster, there will never be a cure.
To keep the conversation going means taking action.
“Find an issue you’re passionate about, talk to your friends, and gather a community behind you,” Shultz said. “You need to try your best to get your voice out there and enact change in your community.”