It was a week after the Sandy Hook shooting. I was in 6th grade and my class had just come back from a field trip. When we returned, we went straight to the art room. I remember going to class, painting, and having a fun time talking with my classmates.
Then, all of a sudden, my principal announced over the intercom we were having a mandatory intruder drill. We had done these drills so many times that they had almost become natural, but nothing could have prepared me for what was about to happen.
Everyone in my class began moving towards a corner of the room and hiding under tables. After several minutes had passed, we began to wonder why we were waiting for so long. Then the principal came over the intercom and said, “This is not a drill. Move away from the windows and to the safest place in your room.”
I was in shock. I had always heard about things like this happening, but never actually thought it would happen to me. We crawled on our stomachs to the closet, which was isolated and towards the back of the room, away from all the windows. We got into the closet and squeezed in as tight as we could and as far back as possible.
I remember being in that claustrophobic closet for what felt like hours. I remember everyone crying, asking the teacher if we were ever going to get out. I remember being so hot that our teacher had to crawl out of the closet to get us a cup of water that we all shared. I remember hugging my inconsolable classmates while trying to keep quiet. I remember sitting in a circle and holding hands with my classmates as we prayed for our lives and prayed for the safety of our siblings.
No words can come close to describing my thoughts and emotions that day. No child should ever have to go through this trauma. After 45 endless minutes of complete lockdown, it was finally safe to emerge from our hiding places. When I came home from school that day I was still in shock. Watching the news that night, we discovered a man had been found carrying an automatic weapon just outside my school.
The week of the Parkland shooting was one of the most depressing and emotionally draining weeks of my life. I remember scrolling through Twitter for hours Wednesday afternoon, reading the news stories, the stories from the survivors, the memorials for the victims, and the tweets demanding action for mental illness and gun reform.
The Parkland shooting really struck a nerve with me because of my experience in 6th grade. I will never understand how some people can read about these events and feel no emotional connection, or any kind of sympathy for the victims, and think that no change is needed to stop these mass killings.
The gun that the man had during my lockdown was the same automatic weapon that the Parkland shooter used. I believe that there is no need for militarized automatic weapons to be in the hands of any citizen. I honestly can’t think of a feasible reason for that weapon to be on the streets.
How many more innocent people have to die until something changes? Why is money viewed as more vital than the lives of young, innocent children? When are these lives going to mean something to politicians? Thoughts and prayers no longer suffice. We need change immediately. Enough is Enough.
*If you're a student reading this, I urge you to stay up to date with the news. Be aware of what's going on around you. If you notice a negative dramatic change in someone report it to a teacher, guidance counselor, resource officer, etc. Use your voice, it can save lives.*
*If you're a teacher reading this, I urge you to talk to your students when tragic events like school shootings occur. We want and need to talk about this. These killings affect us more than you know. Don’t just overlook these events.*