By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
It’s been a month since 17 people, 14 students and three teachers were gunned down at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida by a messed-up young man by the name of Nikolas Cruz. The aftermath has been fairly predictable, and there is little in this latest school shooting that can in any way be considered unique. Broward County Sheriff’s Department has been nicknamed “Coward County” because no officer went in to take the shooter out and save the lives of the kids and teachers. FBI has come under fire because of all the warnings that were given that indicated that Nikolas was dangerous and ready to explode. SSRI-style anti-depressants, (the ones that carry the black box warning that they are not suitable for adolescents because they cause suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts or actions) have once again come under scrutiny, and the National Rifle Association has been not surprisingly portrayed as the League of Lucifer itself.
What is different this time is that there has been a groundswell movement of students who are justifiably upset about what happened, and have bought into the idea that the problem is guns and not the gunner. I used to believe that gun control was the solution, and I no longer think that is the case. I also used to think that people who believed in the 2nd Amendment as intended by the Founders were Neanderthals, while I was the embodiment of enlightened, transcendent, morality because I was a pacifist. I am no longer that, either.
The kids also are real worried about the idea of having highly-trained people in their halls or classrooms who can protect and defend them. My guess is that their belief is that the presence of an armed person would somehow sully the purity of their academic experience. That would have been my thought 50 years ago. After all, it was the era whose battle cry was, “Make love, not war.” By contrast, Federal legislation has been passed to help prevent more school violence, and Florida will be requiring that would-be purchasers of long guns be at least 21 years of age.
So, with emotions high and activism on both sides fomenting, it is encouraging to know that our own Athens High School students have made the news for their mature response to the walk-out that was held across the country on Wednesday, March 14, 2018. Rather than leave school to express their outrage over school shootings and violence in particular, the Athens High kids came up with some ideas that were not only as marvelous as they were measured, they involved Post-its, as well as acts of kindness. They wrote ideas for doing all manner of kind things on Post-its, and put them on what they called the Kindness Wall. Then they had some moments of silence for the fallen. One by one, students went up to the wall, picked up a Post-it, went and performed the deed, and when they were finished put the Post-it on the right side of the wall, which had been set aside for the finished act of kindness.
Sophie Greenhaw is the AHS Student Council Secretary. About their plan, she said, "We're… hoping that it just creates a better school environment where more people just feel involved and feel loved on." We are hoping so, too, Miss Sophie, and Athens High, you have done us proud. Thank you.