Students Demand Action Against Gun Violence
The February 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida has galvanized young people in a way that few other events in recent years have. Grace students have joined with others across the nation to show solidarity with those from Parkland and to demand meaningful legislation to limit access to dangerous firearms.
After the shooting, Grace high school students organized a silent march to Union Square and a vigil during which the names of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting were read aloud. Nearly 200 students joined in the solemn but powerful event calling for change that would make schools safer.
On the National School Walkout Day, nearly 500 students in Grades 4-12 formed a human chain around Grace Church School and the school's neighbors, observing 17 minutes of silence — one for each victim of the mass shooting. With arms linked, students stretched around the block, forming a symbolic shield protecting their school, classmates and siblings. As the national event approached, a group of high school seniors wanted to make a powerful statement that would resonate throughout the community. They conceived of the human chain and lobbied the administration to provide the support and logistics to make it happen.
Following the 17 minutes of silence, a group of 50 high schoolers continued on to Washington Square Park, where they met with others from L.R.E.I. and Harvest Collegiate. Many students delivered impassioned speeches to the gathering of several hundred, and they recorded video messages for their local, state and federal representatives. Seniors Sam B. and Jonah H. both shared messages with the crowd stressing that urgent change is needed and highlighting the importance of strict gun control legislation.
Earlier that morning, students and faculty from the high school laid flowers across the street from the Cooper Square campus in memory of Grace staff member Elizabeth Lee, who was killed earlier this school year in a senseless incident of gun violence that shook the Grace community.
The day’s events were organized by high school seniors with the support and endorsement of the faculty and administration. Student organizers released an official statement ahead of the march: We will march in solidarity with students all across the country who have decided that enough is enough. We gather together tomorrow to stand up for ourselves and to speak out against gun violence. We have the right to be safe in our own schools and on our own streets, and so that is why tomorrow, we will march.
You can see videos and photos by Grace student-journalists on the Grace Gazette Instagram account @gcshighschool. Several media outlets also covered the demonstration, including the Huffington Post, Yahoo! news, Bedford + Bowery and the Anglican Journal.