Generation “School-Shooting” Takes to the Streets In Walkout
VIDEO: As part of a walkout protesting the current state of gun laws in New Hampshire, Vermont, and the United States, students and staff march to the Post Office in Hanover. Video provided courtesy of John Biglow.
When demonstrators and student-protesters gathered outside Hanover High School last Friday, they established a motive. Students there made it clear what they wanted on the cold March afternoon, and it wasn’t just the opportunity to skip out on yet another lecture.
Many of them wanted to change.
Hundreds of Hanover High School students and staff members gathered outside the school at 2:19 pm (the time of day when Nikolas Cruz entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, and killed 17 people in a shooting on February 14th earlier this year) before marching en masse to the Hanover Post Office to deliver approximately 1,500 letters that students and staff had written to various politicians across New Hampshire and Vermont that called for further gun-control, particularly in regard to school safety following a rash of mass shootings across the United States over the past few months. The marchers followed Lebanon Street up to its intersection with South Main Street and delivered their mail before heading back to the school via South Street. Along the way, they held up a variety of signs and were shouting chants such as “Never Again.” Principal Justin Campbell had decided to permit students to miss most of their seventh period classes without penalty so that they could participate in the walkout, and teachers largely followed suit. As a result, there was a large turnout.
The various state senators and representatives who gathered at the event spoke highly of the students and their generation, each of them delivering short speeches that acknowledged the youth for being an inspiration to adults. And these pro-gun-control politicians face governmental challenges with the lenient regulations orchestrated around America’s gun policies—or as one could say, the lacking gun policies. There is even a lack in legislation from our own school. Students and faculty are also under regulations when it comes to firearm usage, but there is no regulation that prevents armed outsiders within school grounds.
In speaking to New Hampshire State Representative Polly Campion of Hanover, she acknowledged and spoke about the lack of gun-control within our very school system. Her recognition spread to the neighboring matters, such as the incident in Parkland, FL. The Representative indicated that “[she] think[s] what is happening to schools across the country is a tragedy, but has been spurring the younger generation to do amazing things.” She finished her comment by saying, “We adults haven’t been able to change things.” She made it clear with her support and conscious expectation that the Generation-Z will change that. The adults that supported the march were incredibly assertive in not only the school’s movement but also the movements that Representative Campion mentioned, which are spurred from the danger that takes place in current day schools. The confidence is refreshing, even from the shouts of bystanders, one who yelled, “Do better than we did!” into the crowd of passing students.
One of the representatives also made it clear on the complexity of the situation, encouraging students to pursue government offices and political positions. “You really get a better understanding of what’s going on when you’re in the middle of it.”
The march was a taste of something much bigger. The letters written by students and the signs the marchers held showed how much students wanted change. One of the marchers who was related to one of the Florida shooting survivors made their statement on what had been going on, saying, “It’s been a long time coming. Because we live in a gated community, it’s so easy to feel safe. And it’s so easy to forget that if we let this going on, every single one of us is going to be personally affected. We cannot normalize it.”
Even those who weren’t at the march seemed intent about expressing their own opinions. In bold yellow, the phrase “Don’t Tread on Me” emblazoned on the Gadsden flag greeted the students as they returned from their rally. The motto, which is frequently used by Americans who oppose new regulations on guns, made it clear that the school was not in complete agreement, despite the high number of students and staff of the march. The flag was quickly removed by an unknown person. A divide certainly seemed to appear on the day of the event, and that divide was more than just a bold yellow flag.
“Find a way to hold on to what we’ve got right now,” Representative Patricia Higgins said, putting her finishing words to a lighter note before the March took its first steps. “And carry it forward, as effectively as you can.”
All photographs by Sophie Caulfield (’21).