Tag Archives: Parkland school shooting

[OPINION] Student Feels “Let Down” By Gun Violence

Yesterday, I got an email from a Staples High School sophomore. She calls herself “quiet,” and says that although she’s not a very good writer, she’s passionate about one subject, and wanted to share her thoughts with the “06880” community.

She’s wrong. She is an excellent writer. And her feelings come through, loud and clear She writes:

I’m not sure when the events at Parkland hit me entirely, but I feel the weight now. I surely did not comprehend it on Valentine’s Day.

I saw the news as an alert on my phone, but I was preparing for a chemistry test and ignored it. That speaks volumes, I suppose. I have become so numb to gun violence that it was easy (easy!) for me to turn my phone off, and instead focus on writing out a chemical reaction.

I read the story in depth later that day, but all I could think was the tragic irony that a mass shooting had happened on Valentine’s Day, which I associate with frivolity…not death.

I struggle now, grappling with my emotions: bereavement, frustration, and fear.

I despise guns with a passion. I used to argue (rather radically) that guns were entirely unnecessary. I thought no one should have one. In recent months, I’ve come to adopt the belief that no one should own some guns. A gun designed for human murder, I think, should not be available for purchase. I think that this stance is more commonplace; I hope that it is.

One opinion, however, that I do feel is more universally accepted (at least among students) is that I feel let down. We are let down due to lack of action.

My opinion is deemed less valuable on the basis of age alone. I am not able to participate in political matters because I have not yet reached the “magical” age of maturity; I am under 18.

My voice should still be respected. In fact, I think that teenage voices should be relevant now more than ever. Students feel personally affected by the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. I’ve broken down this week, as have my peers.

Our safety is in the hands of lawmakers…lawmakers who haven’t made much progress. Lawmakers who have offered up some of the most absurd solutions I’ve ever heard (we shouldn’t be solving guns with guns, that’s just a vicious cycle). And, I should point out, this is not just about student safety. Banning weapons of assault should be viewed as a gain for everyone.

I plan to participate in the national school walkout on March 14, and I’m proud that I attend a school that has such a determined student body. If progress still hasn’t been made, I also plan on taking part in the Connecticut-wide one, intended for April 20th…to mark the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

Living in fear is no way to live. And I’m certainly scared. But I refuse to become acclimated to tragedy.

Thank you,
A Staples Student

[OPINION] Phillip Perri: Put Resource Officers In Westport Schools

“06880” reader Phillip Perri writes:

Following Westport superintendent of schools Colleen Palmer’s initiative to place school resource officers in schools, and the subsequent horrific shooting in Florida, some local residents are letting their voices be heard. They say that regardless of which side of the aisle your loyalty rests with, protecting children and school staff in Westport should not be a political decision.

An online petition has been started by myself and Adam Schorr. We contend that the need and time for action is immediate, with no time for debate. Many school districts around the country have already stationed police at or in their schools, as a deterrent.

Security against threats from outside the schools is really only one part of the proposed SRO position, however. SROs are used in many school districts across the country, as well as in our neighboring districts. They are educators; relationship builders between students and the police; active, visible deterrents to the crime, drugs, harassment, bullying and alcohol use that is prevalent and growing in our schools.

The right candidate is trained to be friendly, open and approachable. Westport has long enjoyed the successful DARE program (although not well funded) and the Westport Police Youth Group, run by officers who know our kids from grade school through high school. Think of the SRO as a DARE officer actually stationed at the school, not the fatigue-wearing, machine gun toting SWAT members we see at airports. But make no mistake, in this day and age, his main duty is security, protection, quick action and notification of threat to the police department. When time means lives, every second counts.

A school resource officer at work.

According to the group, none would argue the threat is real and urgent. None would say this is a better solution than effective gun control, better funding for school security from the government, better mental health intervention or Congressional action. But no one can also argue that any of these things are going to happen in time to prevent or mitigate the next “professional school shooter” who is out there plotting.

This Monday evening (February 26, 7:30 p.m., Staples High School cafeteria) the Board of Education will hear a report from a team of administrators, district security staff, our police chief and deputy police chief on their investigation into the SRO position in place at nearby schools. It is an excellent opportunity to gain the truth about what the position is and is not, and make up your own mind on the subject.

When asked why the SRO position is so urgently needed and should be expedited to approval, one individual says, “We don’t want to be in a position to have to say we should have.”

In the aftermath of the Parkland shooting, schools superintendent Colleen Palmer said:

We will continue to review and reflect upon all of our security measures to remain prepared and to enhance any deterrents to school violence. This past Monday, a team of administrators, district security staff, both our police chief and deputy chief, and a representative of our Board of Education conducted a site visit to a neighboring school district that employs School Resource Officers.

SROs are specially trained police officers assigned to work directly in schools to support school safety. Having a School Resource Officer in our District for 2018-19 has been under review for the past few months, as well as other ongoing initiatives.

I am a proponent of School Resource Officers in schools, and in fall 2017 I proposed that the district seek to have at least one SRO in place for the 2018-19 school year. At the board meeting on Monday evening, the board will be discussing this topic as one of its first agenda items.

Alisyn Camerota Video Goes Viral

As Parkland High School students have spoken about gun violence — drawing the admiration and awe of much of the nation — there has been, predictably, a counter-narrative.

Some people don’t believe young people can be so passionate, articulate and motivated — even after watching as 17 of their classmates were gunned down.

Alisyn Camerota was having none of it.

The Westporter — co-anchor of CNN’s “New Day” — interviewed 2 former Republican congressmen on Tuesday. One was David Jolly of Florida. The other was Jack Kingston of Georgia.

Kingston began by disputing the notion that 17-year-olds can plan a nationwide rally. He believes they are being used by left-wing organizations, to further adults’ purposes.

Camerota pushed back. “I was down there. I talked to these kids before the body count,” she said.

“They had not been indoctrinated. They were motivated.”

Kingston continued to insist that the teenagers were being used. Camerota insisted they were not.

It’s a remarkable 9-minute interview (click below to see). Camerota manages Kingston and Jolly well.

The video has become a microcosm of many debates: about school shootings, gun legislation, and the power of teenagers to change the world.

And at the center of it all is Westport’s newest TV anchor.