The students of Jamaica high school flooded the entrance and steps of their school on March 14, overwhelmingly outnumbering Administration with posters and prepared speeches. This is one of many schools nationwide that participated that day in the school walkout event for 17 minutes of silence in observation of the 17 lives lost in the Parkland, FL school shooting on February 14.
Though the March for Our Lives group argues that this is a school safety issue rather than a political issue, gun laws are a popular topic in politics that fuels partisan debates, especially after these incidents occur. One side of the debate takes the position that guns alone are not responsible for the acts of violence but rather the people that use them. The other side of the argument says that essentially any persons looking to purchase a gun should go through more of an extensive background check.
These recent events are reshaping the conventions of politics, increasingly closing the gap between the government and the governed. Now, the youth is at the forefront which is a phenomenon that has certainly happened before, however, it is new to the current generation, “Z” right behind “Millennials”.
The students at Jamaica High School were extremely passionate about what they feel is a complete lack of seriousness for this issue on the government’s behalf regarding the numerous school shootings that have occurred thus far. The class co-president Diavian Superville, forcefully stated in her speech, “I am tired of this happening, why do we have to protest to feel safe at our schools? That should be a given.”
Superville went as far as taking the angle that students also should be more aware and sympathetic to one another’s mental health. While reassuring some of the skepticism to her statement within the crowd she said “It is not to excuse the actions of the Parkland shooter whatsoever but if you see someone is down, ask them how they are doing. Just help and be nice to each other. Also, If you notice something out of the ordinary, notify someone.”
Students were also particularly vocal about the fact that there is more of an outpouring of outrage against issues that affect students in suburban communities whereas issues that students face in urban communities are ignored.
“If this happened in a school with mostly minority students, nobody would care. I am not saying that the lives of the 17 victims don’t matter but if this shooting happened here, then it would be expected because we are minorities. This is just an ongoing topic that we have been talking about lately but it always ends the same,” says Senior Valeria Ferero pictured to the right. “We post it on social media, we have discussions, and then we forget about it. It is always the same cycle. I don’t know how many more lives are going to be taken before something is done about this national problem.”
Jamaica high school happens to be a gated school and has metal detector screening upon entry. Parental Administrator Roger Ersten said, “This is one of the benefits of this school that is unlike a lot of other’s so students are able to be a little more protected to even participate in something of this nature.” He went on to say that the metal detectors also are a major necessity because “unfortunately right now this is our reality.”
Student recites a passionate spoken word poem that shakes up the crowd, moving them to literally motion towards him excitedly, jumping and cheering after each thoughtful rhyme. Some of his words were, “too much and we have been trying, surrounded by violence but we will not sit here in silence, people are dying, I I think that it is time to change our mindset, I am not lying, we will do it our way.”