In March, over 1,000 Staples High School students walked out of class. Massed in the fieldhouse, they honored the 17 slain students and teachers of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and demanded sensible gun legislation.
It was a powerful display of activism. But many Westporters wondered whether the teenage leaders could sustain their momentum.
A month later, a smaller — but still substantial — group of students headed to the high school courtyard. In the afternoon, a few dozen assembled on Veterans Green, across from Town Hall.
Again, their message centered on stopping gun violence.
And again, the question hung: Are these kids in it for the long run?
There’s now a Staples chapter of Students Demand Action. That’s the national organization — affiliated with Everytown for Gun Safety — fighting for common sense gun reform and usage. Westport leaders include Elana Atlas, Audrey Bernstein, Ruby Coleman, Kaela Dockray, Brooke Kessler, Peri Kessler and Eliza Oren.
The end of the school year is in sight — the busiest time of year. Seniors have already headed off to internships.
But Students Demand Action are in the thick of things. They meet regularly, to strategize and plan activities.
Their first big event is a #WearOrange campaign. That’s the official color of gun violence — because it was what Hadiya Pendleton’s friends wore to honor her. She was killed at age 15 — just a week after performing at President Obama’s 2nd inauguration.
On the weekend of June 1-3, the group will paint the town orange. It’s part of a nationwide effort.
“We would love for the rest of the community to fight with us as we demand action from legislators on a local, state and federal level, as well as businesses and schools to implement common-sense gun reforms. We need to end the epidemic of gun violence in America.”
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