ELLENVILLE – Ellenville can often feel like its own little world. It’s a small town, out of the way of all the comings and goings. Because of that, global trends often take a little time in getting here. Baggy mom jeans are only just now making a comeback, when that happened for the rest of the world about ten years ago. But the Parkland school shooting has shaken the country in a way no other shooting really has, and for once those vibrations have actually reached the Ellenville School System on time. Students are banding together across the country, and Ellenville hasn’t missed a beat. This new nation-wide initiative is something rare and completely different, and it has us rallying alongside thousands of other students.
Last Wednesday, we had our first official walkout meeting. It wasn’t very organized or professional, it had only spread through word of mouth, because no one listens to the 8th period announcements (where it had apparently been mentioned). But dozens of kids came to show their support, if only for a few minutes. I was truly surprised to see just how many politically-minded people I go to school with. We won’t be voters for another few years, so this is our first opportunity to speak out and make something happen. It’s also the first time any of us have had even a taste of political power, we’ve always been "just kids" until now. This is our chance to speak our minds and have our opinions heard, not dismissed as they usually are — and it’s truly exciting.
This thing also hits me on a deeper, more personal level. This place that I go every day can no longer guarantee my safety or that of any of my friends. It’s not the school’s fault, we’re by no means blaming them, but times have changed. It’s time for people to recognize that, and for the law to change with it. We all agree on that. As for what the change should be, that’s where it gets messy. Ellenville is pretty evenly split politically, half of us are gun rights supporters, the other half are gun control advocates. It’s hard to get two sides as polarized as those to join and protest together. But that’s what we plan to do. Our message will simply be one of change, we won’t specify what that change should or should not be. Then all of us can be a part of it, and still feel the thrill of taking action.
So, on March 14 at 10 a.m., a group of Ellenville students are going to get up and leave their classrooms. We’re going to exit the building and stay outside for seventeen minutes in respectful silence, honoring the seventeen victims of the Parkland shooting.
We’ll go in solidarity with other kids across our nation, and send a silent message to those in power. We’re tired of the deaths, we’re tired of the broken families, and we’re tired of the money and politics that cause those tragedies to be ignored. Something has to change, and I hope our efforts can bring that change about.