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FTHS Plans Multiple Events to Highlight School Safety

Lindsey Golotko, Editor-in-Chief

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With the United States in a time of turmoil, it is now the students who are deciding to make a change. On February 14th, 2018, a devastating mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida shook the nation. With seventeen total people being shot and killed, most of which were students, adolescents have made the choice to step up and make a difference. Advocating for safety in schools, students all over the country are determined to have their voices be heard. Teenagers everywhere are not letting fear take over their lives anymore. They are taking the situation into their own hands.

At Freehold Township High School, students are not sitting idly by either. Demanding to be heard, they’ve started initiatives to create a safe school. The first order of business was to create a safety council. This council is comprised of student leaders who are insistent upon fostering an environment that eliminates anxiety and panic that many students have had in the past month over gun violence. By hearing the varying opinions from students, the administrators have been able to address the concerns frequently brought up. It is in no way an easy topic to talk about, however it must be done. The time is now, and the issue is only becoming more pertinent.

It is a hard task to determine what could be done to help establish a school where pupils feel safe, where parents want to send their children, and where teachers want to come in and teach. There truly is no easy solution, or else it would have been put in place already. The main obstacle students and faculty have is how to make a change. Words and ideas are great, but it action is what matters, which is why the safety council in conjunction with teachers have come up with a multitude of activities to urge students to talk about gun violence, mental health, and a myriad of other issues.

On March 14th, 2018, exactly a month after the shooting Freehold Township High School kicked off their true campaign for school safety. Although the administrators had come into English classes the week before to discuss the various measures taken in order to thwart any threat of a shooter, this day marked the start of student driven activity. At 7:45 am a public forum was held in the auditorium, where students could voice their opinions and thoughts about what the staff could do to help create a sense of protection.

Students and staff also came in wearing orange to show support the for anti-gun violence awareness. In addition, every single person in the school was given an orange bracelet to honor the people who have been killed in school shootings. Each bracelet was unique in the sense that attached to each one was a biography of an individual who had been murdered in one of these acts of violence. This act really resonated with students and created a personal touch. At 10:00 am, although some students decided to participate in a walkout, a beautiful poem was read by two seniors. The whole school also paused for a minute and seventeen second moment of silence to remember the seventeen victims of the Parkland shooting.

In the next week during lunches, the Freehold Township family will be showing respect to the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by creating two paper chains. Each loop in this chain will be signed by a student at Freehold Township High School. One will then be looped together and sent to Parkland, Florida and the other will be displayed here at Freehold Township High School, showing that we stand united with the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The most important part of this movement is the fact that students are demanding change. One way to address this need is through a letter writing campaign. Ms. Striffolino will be heading this event which will taking place in the coming weeks. This campaign urges students to write to their local representatives and express their feelings about gun control, mental health, etc. The postage will be paid for by the school, and it is a good way to truly demonstrate how you feel. Your letter can be the driving force behind a movement.

On April 20th, the twenty year anniversary of Columbine, a few events will be happening. Another forum will be held for students in the morning to voice their opinions, explain why they need change, and suggest what could be done to take this school to another level in terms of safety. There will also be an activity/presentation done is history classes about gun violence and school safety. Being that it is a half, it is the perfect opportunity to take time and discuss what can be done.

The final event takes place on May 5th: a color run. This color run is being put together by Patriot Nation and will be at the conclusion of Patriot Nation Week. This week truly stresses the importances of unity within schools. It’s main goal is to eradicate isolation and bias and create an accepting environment. The money raised by this event will go to both the school and a local organization that helps those with mental health issues. You can sign up at https://events.myschoolcolorrun.com/event/PatriotNation.

All in all, there are tons of ways to get involved with creating a safe school environment. There is no time like the present to make a difference in order to make sure school shootings never happen again. We are the voice of the future generations, so let’s make it count.

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