KO raises voices, signs at March for Our Lives

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On March 24, students, parents, teachers, and grandparents alike, stood arm and arm against arms in a nationwide student-led demonstration in support of gun control. Students and teachers from KO who support the movement participated in the rally,  the March for Our Lives, spearheaded by the survivors of the Parkland, Fla. mass shooting.

Junior Ali Meizels attended the march in Northampton, Mass. with her friend, junior Olivia Coxon, in order to voice her opinions on the matter.Holding a sign with “No more silence, end gun violence” written defiantly across it, Ali said it was nice to see another community outside of Connecticut, supporting gun control.

“Personally I’m pretty vocal about activism, and I feel as though I can speak my mind,” Ali said. “I think it’s important for people who are quiet about other issues to speak up about this one because it affects all kids in all schools.”

Ali said it was powerful to see adults supporting the students on the side lines and allowing students to lead the march. She also said the all-student performances to honor past victims were impactful on her experience at the march.

Olivia said she agreed. “The march was completely student-run and people were coming together to vocalize this one issue, which was great,” Olivia said.Raising her views up with a sign reading, “I should be worried about my ACT. Instead, I’m worried about our lives,” Olivia said she wanted to show how teenagers now have an extra responsibility to worry about school shootings in addition to typical high school worries.

“There’s no need for an average American to have an AK-47, and gun control will lessen gun violence,” Olivia said.Sophomore Anusha Memon was unable to attend the march because she was on vacation, but she said she wanted to participate. “I think it’s important to spread awareness about gun violence in school,” Anusha said. “Just because we’re young doesn’t mean it doesn’t count.”

Junior Emma Kate Johansen rallied at the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford with her mom because she said she is concerned that people don’t see school shootings as preventable.“Some of my desire to speak up about this issue probably comes from my own safety,” Emma Kate said. “Students shouldn’t have to fear being shot, especially in school.”Overall, she said the experience was extremely positive and in the long run marches like these will help state legislatures and members of Congress make the decision to start fighting for gun control.

History teacher Katie McCarthy brought her family, mother, and a friend to the March for Our Lives in Hartford. She said the march honored past victims,but also was a call to action.“After Parkland happened, I was enthusiastic to see kids having a lasting impact on this issue through their passion,” Mrs. McCarthy said. “I’m inspired by them.”Mrs. McCarthy said her motivation to join the movement to end gun violence started when her son entered first grade because the kids from Sandy Hook Elementary School were in first grade.

“I was happy to notice that the march was student-led and there was a real energy to it,” Mrs. McCarthy said. “There were people of all races, genders, and ages coming together for this one cause.”

English teacher Meg Kasprak said she agreed that the experience was uplifting as she carried a sign, “Actually… guns do kill people” beside her two sisters, Mrs. Kasprak walked 10 blocks of the New York City march because she said she has strong feelings about sensible gun control.

A memorable speaker for Mrs. Kasprak was the grandmother of a child killed in Parkland. Mrs. Kasprak said she loved the urge for citizens’ voices to count not only vocally, but also politically. “In New York City, you could not get 50 feet without someone asking you if you wanted to register to vote,” she said.Some students and teachers agreed that gun violence is not limited to one group or location. “I think nobody is immune,” Mrs. Kasprak said.

Olivia said that whenever there is a lock down, she immediately gets scared. “Especially because our campus is open, it’s totally possible for a school shooting,” Olivia said.Other students seek to raise awareness about gun violence.

“If nothing happens by the end of the year, I will go to Mr. G and ask about educating the school about gun violence, having a club, and speaking at assemblies,” Anusha said. “Just because it’s very unlikely for a school shooting at KO, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand up for other people who are experiencing gun violence.”

Olivia said she agreed. “This march definitely inspired me to step up about security in our community,” she said.Students and teachers said they want more conversations. “I am disappointed that it even got to this point because I enjoy having an open campus,” Ali said. “I also know the students don’t feel safe here at the moment, and I think we need to have more conversations about how to make campus safe.”

Mrs. McCarthy said she agreed.“I hope students feel empowered to speak their mind no matter what end of the spectrum their views fall on,” she said. “Whether a student is passionate about gun law reform or simply wants to have a discussion about how to make KO safer, I hope the faculty provide an opportunity for students to express their views even if those moments are uncomfortable.”

No matter what views you have on the issue of gun control, it is safe to say that there is a push for safety on campus to be reevaluated because of this movement. The March for Our Lives empowered the community at KO to speak up for their beliefs and spark change on campus that will live on into the future.