GHS student speeches from last week’s walkout


Karlee Hynes

Alexander Oaks speaks to the crowd at Thursday’s walkout

Alexander Oaks, opening speaker

I think we all know why we’re out here today. It’s to protest gun violence. It’s to catalyze change. And it’s to remember those who have been lost already.

Before we start though, I want to make a couple acknowledgements. First, to the administration for being so open to student suggestions. There are schools around the country that aren’t as open as ours, that are restricting their students’ freedoms. So we’re thankful to Principal Cook and the rest of the administration for being so open to our ideas. To the Gloucester Police Department, for ensuring our safety and being open to the concern to the community and keeping us safe. To the various students who have worked so hard to make this a reality. And to all of you for being out here.

Like I said, we’re out here to catalyze change, to raise awareness about gun violence and the danger that it poses to students, and to remember those who have been lost not only in Parkland, Florida, but also in every shooting around the world and in the country.

To start off, I’ll be honest with you guys. There’s honestly no place I want to be less than out here. I don’t want to be out here worried about my livelihood. I’d rather be inside stressing about a test or at home worrying about college. And I think we’d all rather be doing that because it shouldn’t be the jobs of a bunch of teenagers to ensure our safety. There are people who get paid to do that in the government. It shouldn’t take a brutal death of seventeen kids and teachers to get this conversation going, but unfortunately that’s what it’s taken.

The responsibility to catalyze this change should never have fallen on the shoulders of teenagers, but here we are. Yet, I’m encouraged by this crowd I see in front of me. There are people from all grades, from all political leadings, from all walks of life and we’re all out here united by our desire for change and safety.

We deserve more. As human beings, we deserve safety and security in our classrooms, and at home, and around the country. But a fire clearly has been lit that cannot be ignored anymore. As young people, we often fall into the habit of thinking that our voices don’t matter as much as those who can vote, and those who have money, and those who have established power. But that isn’t true. Clearly politicians are finally starting to pay attention.

We are out here as one voice telling people we want change, and we demand change. Yet, unfortunately, one day of protest isn’t going to bring about enough change that’s meaningful. It’ll take more than a walkout to fix the epidemic of gun violence in our country.

So, I urge all of you here today who have a degree of interest in your own safety to get involved, get active, and make your voice heard. You can do this by registering to vote, signing petitions online, getting involved with candidates. However you make your voice heard.

Rebecca Dowd

Every country has people who feel isolated. Every country has  people with mental health problems. Every country has people who are ostracized. But only in one country do these people kill large numbers of children: this one.

Mental illness is often cited as the cause of these shootings, and while mental health is exceedingly important, people facing mental health issues would not be able to do the same amount of damage without access to military-style weapons. There is no need for civilians to have access to military style weapons. Over and over again, this country has stood by as the number of children killed by school shootings grows. This country has watched as thousands of children are slaughtered, children whose only mistake was to go to school that morning.

How has it become that going to school is a mistake? Students biggest fear at school should be the grade they got on their last chemistry test, or the mysterious brown substance being served for lunch. But with the non-restrictive gun laws, students instead fear that the everyday will be their last. Suddenly students are worrying every time the intercom comes on, hoping it’s not about an intruder. Students worry when they hear bangs from down the hall, hoping that it’s not coming from a gun. In every classroom, students worry that they don’t know what to do if there was an attacker.

But this could change. Massachusetts is one of the states with the least amount of gun deaths, due to the restrictive rules it maintains. If the rest of the country had similar laws, it would be a start to preventing the excessive amount of gun violence. Through enacting nationwide laws that restrict military-style weapons and require background checks, among other things, it would be more challenging for those unqualified to obtain weapons.

Walking out is a way to call attention to this issue, but it is not the solution. We are done feeling unsafe in school. We want action, we want it now, and we are not planning to rest until this problem is solved.

Jemima Grow

We live in the United States of America, a country that, since its foundation, was different than anywhere else in the world. This has usually been a good thing, as America has been a forerunner in advancements that are pushing this world forward. However, one of the things that makes this country different is its extraordinarily high rates of gun violence. Compared to other developed nations, our country is years behind.

We live in a place labelled “the land of opportunity,” yet for the 17 victims in Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida, this is not the case. The 14 teenagers killed, teenagers our age, had their stories cut short. Stories across the nation continue to be cut short.

Courtlin Arrington, a 17 year old girl from Alabama, was killed in her classroom when a gun brought to school by a classmate went off accidentally. This happened only weeks after the shooting in Parkland. How has this been allowed to happen? It has been close to twenty years since the shooting at Columbine high school, almost 6 years since 20 children and six staff members were killed in the Sandy Hook shooting, and nothing has been done.

How are we supposed to focus on our education and growing up, if everyday, in the place we are supposed to be safe, we are faced with the possibility of a tragedy. School is a place where we are supposed to learn, and a place that is meant to prepare us to become adults and face the world. We are in high school, we have so many things to worry about. Being safe in school shouldn’t be one.

This should not be a partisan matter.

This shouldn’t be Republicans vs. Democrats.

It should just be common sense.

This is the safety of the children and students who will soon be in charge of this country. Our government, the adults that are supposed to protect us, have failed.

We are here to stand in solidarity with the victims of the Parkland school shooting. To remember all the victims of gun violence. To ask for something to be done so this never happens again. Many of us cannot vote, including me, but when I can, I will put my confidence in people who will be dedicated to solving this problem.

For now, all we can do is speak up, protest, and hope something will be done. We are teenagers, and we have to stand up for ourselves and protect ourselves, because right now, nothing is being done to keep us safe. This cycle of gun violence needs to end.

Maria Kotob

Since we were little, our parents have sent us to school with trust that the system is made to protect us from any outside harm. It’s a place where we should only be worried about our grades, classes, and who we’re going to the dances with, not wondering if today, tomorrow, or even the next day will be one of our last. It’s an age where we should be going out with our friends and taking a trip to the city for a fun night out, not having to rally for our right to live.

The issue here is the fact that we have come to the point where it became our responsibility to step up and fight our government to make a change. We, as teens, should not have to beg the people (who supposedly protect us) to make laws in order to save us from the horrors we witness daily on our news channels.

Too many children, teachers, and people have died this year due to anyone having easy access to guns. Due to a person making the decision that they control the lives of others. Due to the fact that our government is failing to make a change because this issue doesn’t affect them personally and therefore fixing this doesn’t benefit them.

So even though we are “only kids,” since no one else is going to fight for our lives, it’s time that we step up and fight for ourselves, fight for the protection of schools across the country until a change is made. The fact we are now negotiating for our right to live is something that will never be okay.

We have learned from past issues that we must stick together and continue doing everything we are capable of for as long as it takes. That’s why I walked out, because we are now negotiating with our government to save students across the country.

Caroline Enos

To those who say that students shouldn’t be walking out today– that students belong in school– we are gathered here today because these 17 teachers, coaches, and students are no longer in school.

This is not acceptable.

We ask that legislators keep these 17 names in their hearts when dealing with gun violence. We ask that legislators do not dissolve this tragedy into a partisan debate, as both parties have done in the past. Legislators; students do belong in school, and it is your responsibility to keep them safe. Students; continue to use your voice to stand up for yourselves, and for those who no longer can. 

Caleb Perry

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Scott Beigel, 35

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Chris Hixon, 49

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Alaina Petty, 14

Meadow Pollack, 18

Helena Ramsay, 17

Alex Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Peter Wang, 15