Last week, students from across the country made a stance against gun violence that is currently plaguing our nation. Some schools allowed students to have a planned “walkout,” while other schools planned various activities that students could participate in within their school.
Unable to endorse a student walkout, administrators at Mineola High School along with the high school’s Student Organization came up with many unique ways to honor the 17 senseless deaths that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL last month.
“Our Student Organization met several times to discuss their desire to honor the victims at Stoneman Douglas High School while also balancing the need to keep students safe,” said Mineola High School principal Whittney Smith. “I am very proud that our students came together to create an opportunity that did just that.”
From 10 to 10:17 a.m., students who wanted to participate signed a banner in the school’s lobby that read #mineolastrongsafesmart, recorded a video message to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and made or wore a maroon and silver ribbon (the school colors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School) amongst many other planned activities.
Instead of mourning, Jennifer Moglia, a freshman at Mineola High School said there was a sense of optimism within the student body.
“Aside from the 17 minutes when events were taking place, the general mood around the building was hopeful,” explained Moglia. “It was obvious that the students were ready to take a tragedy and make it into something that we can change things from. This is probably the strongest sense of community that I have felt at our school in a while.”
Although some students did walk out of school for the 17 minutes, Moglia said that the majority of students stayed in their classrooms.
“It looked like a majority of the students participated in the events held within the school,” said Moglia. “This was definitely a bigger turnout than I expected and I can’t express how proud I am of all of the students.”
The high school also gave students the opportunity to write to elected officials to help stop gun violence. Students who are already 18 years old also registered to vote.
“To see students backing up their opinions and actually doing something was really inspiring to me,” said Moglia. “Actions always speak louder than words, and the students who either signed up to vote or wrote to an official will definitely be heard.”
When the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School first happened, Moglia said she felt unsafe to be at school but after discussing safety procedures and seeing how dedicated the high school’s faculty was to keeping students safe, her fears slowly started to dissipate.
“For a few weeks after what happened in Parkland, the conversation did continue at school,” explained Moglia. “We had advisory sessions where we were welcome to ask any questions and teachers reviewed safety plans with us. Every single one of my teachers, including study hall and lunch monitors, have gone over a specific plan of action.”
Mineola High School also plans to make the next few active shooting drills stricter and more realistic to make sure that students would be prepared if the school was ever faced with an actual emergency situation.
“My biggest fear after the tragedy in Parkland was that it would be viewed as ‘just another shooting’ and that everyone at our school would forget about it and move on,” said Moglia. “Mineola High School has done the complete opposite, opening communication lines between students, staff, and parents and constantly pushing the importance of school safety.”