Student VoicesBack to student voices archive August 6, 2019
Student Voice: How gun violence has ravaged the education experience in America
Editor’s note: As students headed back to school this week, they did so following two deadly mass shootings over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Some of those killed in an El Paso Walmart were buying school supplies for their children. In this Student Voice, Colorado high school student Lily Wilshire, whose Denver school was closed for three days this past spring following a shooting threat — right after a school shooting had occurred just miles away and only weeks after schools across the state had been cancelled following a different threat — shares why she is infuriated to be a student in America right now.
by Lily Wilshire, senior at South High School in Denver, Colorado
I wrote this sitting at home on a Thursday morning in May. I had missed three days of class due to a school shooting threat.
Two days prior, senior Kendrick Castillo was the latest victim of gun violence in the U.S. He was shot and killed in a school shooting just a dozen miles away. Instead of attending his graduation, his family attended his funeral.
“To say that gun violence has consumed and ravaged the education experience in America is an understatement.”
As students, we carry a great deal of fear in going to school. We practice lockdown drills at school regularly. We’ve memorized where we would hide in each of our classrooms, if a shooting were to start. You don’t want to be in a third floor classroom because it’s harder to jump out the windows, if you have to. When the lockdown starts you need to turn off the lights and hide in the corner, so someone in the doorway can’t see you. If you’re in the bathroom when the lockdown starts, you need to stand on the toilet in a stall, so they can’t see your feet.
This is the reality of being a student in America right now. And it’s infuriating. We are
angry and we deserve to be. Our politicians are failing us. A lot of people don’t want to make school shootings “political,” but the truth is that it is in every way political. It just shouldn’t be controversial. I cannot believe that we need to debate whether or not kids being killed in school is normal.
“This is the reality of being a student in America right now. And it’s infuriating.“
We need policy change. But most young people–often the direct victims of gun violence and our country’s lack of gun control–aren’t old enough to vote. The people creating gun legislation have no idea what it’s like to crouch in the corner and pray that the classroom door doesn’t open and a shooter walks through it. As much as we’re desperate for change, our voices can’t yet be represented.
I think I speak for most students in America right now when I beg people to do
something. If you can vote, vote. If you can march, march. If you have a phone, call your legislators. Don’t let yourself grow numb to this. This will keep happening, and kids will keep dying, until people finally say that enough is enough. Until then, we are all just waiting and hoping that we’re not next.
Share your voice! If you have an idea for an opinion piece, consider sending a pitch to NewsHour Extra’s Student Voice blog. The blog is full of powerful, original pieces by middle and high school students. Write Vic Pasquantonio at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sign up for short education highlights from the PBS NewsHour here.
Tooltip of related stories
More Student Voices
Tooltip of more video block
Submit Your Student Voice
Tooltip of related content
Tooltip of RSS content 3
Educator Voice: Teaching in the Age of Coronavirus: Week 1
Photo of Sara-Beth Rosenberg by Sari Beth Rosenberg, 11th grade AP U.S. History, High…Advancement Placementcollege boardcoronaviruscovid-19ed techEducator VoiceInstagramonline learningremote learningstudentsteachersteachers voiceUS historyvirtual learningzoom
Social justice and the coronavirus
In this NewsHour Extra lesson plan, learn how the coronavirus relates to issues of social justice. Continue readingamazonasian americanscoronaviruscovid-19detention centersdiscriminationEconomicseconomyHealthlesson planNews & Media Literacyprisonspublic healthracismunemploymentworkersxenophobia
Lesson plan: What is the role of civil disobedience today?
In this NewsHour lesson plan, learn about the practice of civil disobedience with examples like Cesar Chavez and Rosa Parks. Continue readingAmerican Historycesar chavezcivil disobedienceCivil Rights Movementclass activityELAenglishEnglish & Language ArtsGovernment & CivicsHenry David Thoreaulesson planrosa parksSocial IssuesUS history
Student Voice: Students share what learning is like under COVID-19
Hear from middle school to college-aged students in the U.S. and China about the effects of coronavirus on their education. Continue readingChinacoronaviruscovid-19CUNYglobal issuesnovel coronavirusonline learningpandemicpublic healthquarantineSRLstudent reporting labsStudent Voice
PBS 2-minute news summary: Choose your own current event!
In this current events lesson, check out the PBS NewsHour’s 2-minute news wrap from Mon. March 31st. Continue readingArts & Culturecurrent eventsGovernment & CivicsIranIraqlesson planMexicoMexico CityNetherlandsNews & Media Literacynews wrappbs newshourSocial StudiesVincent Van Gogh