March 15, 2018

7th Grade Activism

This week’s blog is different. It is written by our 7th grade students (with no editing from me.)

Friends School’s vision is to make the world better by challenging minds, nurturing spirits and honoring individuality.” Part of our mission reads: Our students gain a deep understanding of themselves and are inspired to act with compassion and integrity.”

When I read our students’ words, I did not hesitate to share them with you, our greater community.  I did not read this as a political statement, nor did I worry that these views may not align with everyone in our community.  I read these words and saw 13 and 14 year olds carrying out our vision and mission. They are making the world better and they were inspired to act…
Introduction by Charlotte C.
“We Call BS!” Seventeen kids were killed in the Parkland mass shooting. The seventh grade class has been studying gun control and the recent school shootings in Florida. We are doing a lot of work on activism of gun control. We started by watching a speech that Emma Gonzalez wrote and performed. She is a high schooler at the school in Parkland, Florida where the shooting occurred. After being inspired by the amazing speech we went on to write letters to Jared Polis, a Democratic Colorado Representative. He got our letters and offered to contact us via Skype. We had a great informative call with him on March 8th.
Emma Gonzalez Speech by Anastasia H.
            “It’s time for victims to be the change we need to see.” This quote is by Emma Gonzalez, a very powerful senior at Stoneman Douglas High School. On February 17th, three days after the Florida shooting, teen Emma Gonzalez gave a twelve-minute speech about gun control called “We Call BS.” Since we, the 7th graders are focusing on activism in almost all subjects, we watched Emma’s speech two days after she spoke. We’ve brainstormed and thought about all sorts of activism. Kevin Nugent, the middle school homeroom and science teacher in fact said, “We have had a lot of shootings, and everyone stood back and tolerated it. This could be the breaking point.” We have all felt this, and this is the main reason we are studying activism, and participating in it too. See Emma Gonzalez's speech here.
Letter Writing by Avery L.
The next step, we realized, was writing letters. We were all so motivated by Emma Gonzalez’s speech, we decided to write letters to Colorado Representative Jared Polis, making our voices heard. During homeroom one day, we had a huge brainstorm about what we would say in our letters, and Kevin wrote all of our ideas on the whiteboard. We then worked on our letters individually and shared them with each other when we were finished.

In our letters, we mentioned gun control and the Second Amendment, saying that we thought the Second Amendment wasn’t being interpreted correctly or the way it was originally written to be interpreted. We talked about getting rid of all guns, then more realistically, only assault rifles. We all agreed this would help solve the problem of the mass shootings. We think that assault rifles belong in war. We also talked about Emma Gonzalez’s speech and how we were motivated by her power and captivation of the crowd. We agreed that what she was saying was and is really important, and that it shouldn’t be ignored.

Another topic that came up in our letters was asking Jared Polis what his opinion was on arming teachers. We read an article in Humanities with Diane Bramble about a teacher protecting his students with a gun. The article introduced the idea of arming teachers, and we discussed this amongst ourselves. We all agreed that this idea wasn’t the best way to handle the mass shootings, which originally gave us the idea of asking Jared Polis his ideas on this topic. He, like us, didn’t support that idea.

These topics were our main points in our letters, and we felt a lot less helpless writing them. We can’t wait to see some change, but change doesn’t happen easily. We will keep fighting and writing for what we know to be true. If you feel helpless, as we did before we started writing, there are so many ways for you to make a difference, too. Tori S. has listed multiple ways for you to help- so read on!

Phone Call with Rep. Jared Polis (Part 1) by Audrey A.
On Thursday, March 8th. We, the seventh grade class, had a Skype call with Representative Jared Polis. During the phone call we got to ask him questions about gun control. Some of the questions we included in the call were, “What is the next step for making this stop?” “Can we get other schools involved in helping?” “Do you think the second amendment is currently being perceived as our founding fathers intended? How do you think it should be perceived?” Jared Polis answered our questions shortly but detailed. After the call we talked about what our next step would be. We decided that we would write to Cory Gardner using the same letters we sent to Jared Polis.

Phone Call with Rep. Jared Polis (Part 2) by Ali T.
            The 7th grade asked questions to Mr.  Polis on a Skype call. We asked him questions related to gun control. Some of the questions that they asked were, “What is stopping the banning of assault rifles?” and “How do you feel about teachers being armed in schools?” These are only some of the questions that the 7th grade came up with to ask him. Jared Polis responded in short but very detailed answers. Jared Polis’s answers were not what they totally expected because they went into this thinking that he was against gun control when writing the letters and before the call, but the 7th grade then found out near the first question that he is with it and he wants to help. The questions did end up working anyway.
National School Walkout by Allison H.
            On March 14th, our middle school participated in a nationwide walkout. The walkout was in honor of the victims of the recent Florida high school shooting. We stayed outside of the school for seventeen minutes to pay tribute to the seventeen people who died in the shooting. This project is student-led and students were the only ones outside (teachers observed nearby). We have done a lot of brainstorming about posters and other things we could do or say while outside. We feel this was a very important thing to participate in because we wanted to make our voices heard about what has been happening with the mass shootings in our country recently. We have been talking about gun control a lot lately and we are very excited that we got to participate in this walkout with many other schools in honor of the victims of the recent shooting.
What Everyone Can Do to Help by Tori S.
            At this part of this blog you are probably wondering. How can I help? How can I be an activist? How can I make my voice heard? Well, we also felt helpless when we first started learning about mass shootings and gun control, but then we had an idea--How about we write letters.

I will talk about what sources I used. I first found this source about mass shootings and when I first read it, I was shocked about how many there are in the United States. It broke my heart to see how many people were affected by one shooting and how their community reacted and it motivated me even more. This source said there were 346 mass shootings. This is the link if you want to check the website. Mass Shootings in the U.S. in 2017.  

How can you help in your our community? Like us, you can write letters to your own local representative. Here is a link You can donate money or your time to organizations helping the cause. Here is another link that has more information about the organizations and you can also join organizations to help. How to Take Action on Gun Control. I hope you join us to make the world a better place.

Statistics by Jaden S.
There are more guns in the USA than every other country! There have been a total of 146 school shootings from 2000 to 2018. Seven children and teens (age 19 or under) are killed with guns in the U.S. on an average day. On a average year there are nearly 13,000 gun homicides a year in the U.S.! How can we help to fix the overwhelming gun violence in America?

Conclusion by Allison H.
            In conclusion, our middle school is doing a lot to make our voices heard. We are trying to do everything we can to be the change we want to see. Some next steps for us are writing letters to Cory Gardner, participating in in the National School Walkout, and we may even write to the National Rifle Association. We hope you all will try to stand up for what you believe as well.   

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