Ari, a senior, is helping to organize the National School Walkout on March 14th for Montclair High. He and other students have been in conversation with the administration throughout the planning and were asked not to make the walkout political. Ari says the walkout isn’t meant to be political but intends to honor all victims of gun violence. The Parkland shooting came at an emotional time for him, having just heard of a friend’s suicide -- the second friend to commit suicide in the past year. Knowing that nearly two thirds of gun deaths are suicides, Ari celebrates the portion of the Florida bill which helps keep guns out of the hands of those deemed a danger to themselves or others. He hopes that other states will follow suit. His advice to those interested in joining a movement is to read as much as you can and to educate yourself in order to be a good advocate. “Even though you're right to feel like something has to be done, if you don't know the facts and the history behind it you're just going to be shut down.”
For Corinna, a Montclair High School senior, the news of the Parkland shooting felt close to home. A girl she once met is from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and witnessed the violence in her own classroom. Many of Corinna’s classmates know MSD students through a shared summer camp. Corinna, coming from a family where important issues are regularly discussed around the dinner table, naturally brought her thoughts, feelings, and tears home. Fighting the urge to “flee into the woods and wait for everything to burn to the ground,” she chose to channel her anger and sadness into resolve and action. Within a few days, she had created a local Students Demand Action group with the help of a friend as well as initiated conversations in classrooms, sparking students to work together as activists. Corinna helped to organize the upcoming March 14th walkout at MHS. She even called into WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show to share her perspective.
With her three years experience as a Center for Social Justice student at MHS, Corinna feels like she’s been training for this moment. As she prepares for the walkout -- screening student speakers, staying in touch with administration and the media, and making posters -- Corinna keeps in mind the Newark March For Our Lives on March 24 and plans to fundraise and support the Newark students.
On Wednesday, March 14th, Corinna and classmates will walk out. They will rally, they will honor the victims with flowers and posters, and they will speak out. On Thursday the work continues.