Haven Discusses Student Safety One Year Later

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Haven Discusses Student Safety One Year Later

Abby Loiselle, Co-Editor-in-Chief

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800 marches, 115 school shootings, 98 deaths, 69 gun control measures, one year. February 14th, 2019 marks one year since the infamous Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting. As Emma Gonzalez expressed during her speech at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C, “In a little over six minutes, 17 of our friends were taken from us, 15 more were injured, and everyone, absolutely everyone in the Douglas community was forever altered.”

The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas reached far beyond the small community of Parkland, Florida as it once again showed the reality of gun violence in schools across the nation. Students throughout the country, from Florida to Wallingford, felt the aftershock of the deaths at Stoneman Douglas. Parkland followed a long string of mass school shootings, dating back to the Columbine shooting of 1999 when thirteen were killed at the hands of two students and their 9mm carbine with thirteen 10-round magazines, according to CNN. Since that day in April, there have been an average of 10 school shootings a year. 2018 surpassed all previous statistics with an average of one school shooting per week. Labeled as the “Mass Shooting Generation”, generation Z has used 2018 as a platform for a campaign for March for Our Lives, a movement to end gun violence in schools.

Despite the drastic growth in school shootings, 2018 was also marked by the greatest change in gun control since 2012 and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Following the advocacy of students from Parkland and a surge of movements across the country, state legislatures passed 69 gun control measures. More than half of the states passed at least one gun control measure in 2018. The March for Our Lives policy agenda explains the students’ fight for universal background checks, high capacity-magazine ban, and funding for gun violence research. Florida has seen a majority of the change as their gun laws and also received the most backlash from the National Rifle Association (NRA) as a result. Florida legislature passed a bill named after Marjory Stoneman Douglas that raised the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21, a move that the NRA claims to violates the Second and 14th amendments of the US Constitution.

In the past year, Strath Haven has increased its efforts to ensure the safety of its students. The most change has come from the amount of attention the school puts on its safety policies. Dr. Brown emphasized this stating, “students and staff have been much more vigilant about our safety protocols. Parents have shown an increased interest in our safety protocols as well.”

Other aspects of the school have been aimed towards students’ safety such as the installment of new security cameras. The improvement of the schools security system was never in response to a specific event such as the numerous bomb threats received last school year or even the shooting in Florida, but instead as a way to be proactive in the school’s safety measures. One reason that many schools are upgrading their security or informing students and staff of safety policies is to make each student feel safe in school. A concept that the March for Our Lives group feels is too greatly overlooked by gun advocates such as the NRA.

In the few days that followed the Parkland shooting, there was  a question lurking in every survivor’s mind as well as every United States’ student and teacher and parent’s mind, “what comes next?” The past year has seen some of the greatest achievement by this generation, from 800,000 people marching together in D.C and millions more across the world. It has also seen further heartbreak and loss, with the death toll increasing at a devastating rate. 365 days is not enough time to change a country rooted in ideals dating back to 1787 and the birth of the U.S. constitution, but it has proved enough time to start waves in the fight for gun control.

Aside from guns themselves, March for Our Lives has advocated for helping those with mental health issues and being proactive in helping them. At Strath Haven, the counselors readily available to students as well as the relationships between students and faculty has helped to maintain a safe atmosphere for learning. Dr. Brown says, “the fact that we can place a call to a parent and share our concerns or that they will call or email us with concerns, shows that we have strong working relationship with the community to be able to provide our students with as much support that they need.”

A powerful poem published in the book by survivors of the shooting describes the thoughts and emotions of students after February 14th. Daniela Ortiz-Machado writes,

 

“Seventeen flowers and counting,

And we can’t make the wilting stop.

Why won’t the wilting stop?”

 

In one year, the wilting hasn’t slowed. In another, will it stop or will its pace only quicken?