Student action following the Parkland shooting


Halsey Smith

Student sign at last year's student led "March for our Lives."

It has been nine months since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida where Nikolas Cruz took 17 lives. Since then there have been 15 more deadly school shootings in the U.S.

Our country’s response to these mass shootings follows a predictable pattern; we mourn those who have lost their lives yet little change is made to prevent it from happening all over again.

The Parkland shooting had a different effect that sparked rebellion and outrage from students all over the country, demanding for change and stricter gun laws to put a stop to the never-ending cycle of school shootings.

Regardless of your opinion on gun control, it’s difficult and quite frankly scary to process that a place we come to everyday could be a place where we have to fear for our safety.

The march that took place at East Grand Rapids High School on Mar. 14 was a powerful way that our school came together to honor the victims of this violence, and make our voices heard, but have we as students and a school community done enough since the walkout to use our voices and platforms to demand change?

I feel that we have, but not always in the large ways that media covers. Sometimes the small things can have a bigger impact that you might think. Following the march, I know that I personally wanted to find a way to affect change, but struggled for how to do this. I then began to see a change in the way people treated one another, and listened to each others opinions. Discussions about mental health and kindness began to emerge.

Although I believe policy and change is what this country truly needs for “never again” to become a possibility, there are other ways we as high schoolers can respond when we are struggling with the fact that we don’t have the power to directly make changes. Many of us cannot vote yet, but educating yourself on the laws and happenings going on in our government is one way we can be prepared to use our voices.

Walkouts, rallies, and marches are all powerful ways in which we can honor victims, and express concern for our own safety, but the little everyday things that no one sees can have just as much effect. Kindness and awareness are two factors that I believe play a large role in today’s society where we must find a way to face tragedies that hit close to home.