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Finding Hope in the Age of School Shootings

%22The+March+For+Our+Lives+was+a+reminder+to+me+that+I%E2%80%99m+not+alone+in+my+anger+or+in+my+sadness.+I+know+that+my+generation+will+defiantly+dream+of+a+better+world+and+do+everything+in+our+power+to+create+it.%22+Photo+courtesy+of+Orly+Einhorn

"The March For Our Lives was a reminder to me that I’m not alone in my anger or in my sadness. I know that my generation will defiantly dream of a better world and do everything in our power to create it." Photo courtesy of Orly Einhorn

"The March For Our Lives was a reminder to me that I’m not alone in my anger or in my sadness. I know that my generation will defiantly dream of a better world and do everything in our power to create it." Photo courtesy of Orly Einhorn

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I attended the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24.

I listened as student after student from across the United States spoke about their experience with gun violence, watched as Sam Fuentes threw up during her spoken word piece and finished it even stronger, heard numerous world-famous performers sing, cried for hours, and listened to Emma Gonzales.

A minute or so into her speech Gonzales stopped talking. It seemed like she was just having a hard time continuing at first, but she looked into the crowd with strength and defiance.

She stayed silent, with a hard face that no teenager should have to show, for four and a half minutes. An alarm went off on her phone, and when she spoke, she explained that it had been six minutes and twenty seconds since she walked onto the stage.

She referred to the timeline of the Parkland shooting.

“The shooter has ceased shooting and will soon abandon his rifle, blend in with the students as they escape and walk free for an hour before arrest. Fight for your lives before it’s someone else’s job.”

For two months, I have struggled to find the words to describe how I felt about that day. After all, how do you describe 200,000 people standing in silence? I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to.

Recently our high school’s administration and Director of Security have decided to close our campus. This means no more free periods, no more bagel runs, no more naps in the middle of the day. A lot of students are against that.

I’m angry that there have yet to be gun laws that would fix the problem, angry that people do such awful things to children, angry that no one will listen to us because we are teenagers, angry that ageism is alive and well and I am angry that I am more scared of dying than of finals.”

But despite the fact I’ll miss those things, I understand where the administration is coming from. They’re afraid for our safety and they aren’t alone in that fear. The fear of a shooting at our school is a real one and must not be dismissed- but on some level it feels like giving in.

I understand that the school is responsible for us and our safety, and if someone isn’t in the building because of open campus, it would make things harder for the school and parents to verify that the student is safe in an emergency.

I understand that and I don’t disagree, I just don’t want to live every day scared of a shooter. The decision to close campus is driven by fear that we as students feel everyday. We are not oblivious to the danger we face.

We have no choice but to come to school, and most days I come fearful that I won’t make it out. I am constantly thinking of where the closest exit is, how I could get out if I had to, worrying about who we could possibly lose.

I am tired of living in that fear.

I am angry that I still have to.

I’m angry that there have yet to be gun laws that would fix the problem, angry that people do such awful things to children, angry that no one will listen to us because we are teenagers, angry that ageism is alive and well and I am angry that I am more scared of dying than of finals.

Mostly, I am sad. Because this isn’t how I asked to spend my adolescence. I don’t want to worry about who’s going to live through the next school year.

The March For Our Lives was a reminder to me that I’m not alone in my anger or in my sadness. I know that my generation will defiantly dream of a better world and do everything in our power to create it.

There are plenty of people who would look me in the eye and tell me that because we are young, we are incapable of creating change. Incapable of understanding the circumstances of the world we live in. These people would speak to me as a child and expect me to act like an adult.

I welcome each of these people to come speak to me– perpetuate your ageism here so at least then you’ll have a face to remember– you can remember me as you watch us make this world safer for everyone.

You can remember me when your children and grandchildren get back to being afraid of finals. You can remember me, because I know we are going to do things no one will ever forget.

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Finding Hope in the Age of School Shootings