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Oxford High School students write to victims of Florida school shooting

Members of Oxford High School’s Gay-Straight Alliance group gathered Wednesday to write letters of sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives in the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

After school, the group of about 15 students met in English teacher Sommer Husbands’ classroom where they wrote down each victim’s name, passed around notebook paper and pens, and shared their thoughts and feelings on the tragedy.

Husbands said the students’ letters not only send a message of sympathy to the families, but also a message of awareness.

“The kids wanted to do this, and I think it shows that they are very well aware of what’s going on in the world and they feel that it affects them,” she said. “I think it’s a good way for them to show support, and that they are taking part in this world, no matter what age they are. We look at them as kids, but they are wiser than we give them credit for.”

The students ranged from freshmen to seniors, and they all said, regardless of the content of their individual letters, they wanted the families to know they’re not alone. Senior Keon Smith said he hopes sending the letters will send a message of solidarity to the families.

“I want to convey that we feel for their loss, and that we’re not oblivious to the fact that this is a huge problem that needs to be addressed,” Smith said. “We want them to know that someone out there knows their child lost their life and is trying to fix the problem.”

Advocating for a change is one thing many students said motivated them to participate in the meeting. OHS junior Taylor Green said she has been researching statistics and exploring ways to prevent more school shootings in the country.

“I feel like it’s important to raise awareness about what’s happening in schools all over the country,” Green said. “I was researching it after it happened, and other countries that have stricter gun laws. I feel like it’s a bit ridiculous that we’ve had so many tragedies and we haven’t done anything about it.”

In 2018 alone, four out of 17 total incidents involving a firearm on a school campus have resulted in the death of at least one student, according to recent studies.

Since 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last week, many students across the country have taken it upon themselves to campaign for a change in gun legislation.

The survivors of the shooting have gone as far as organizing a “March for Our Lives” in Washington, D.C., which has attracted national attention and the support of a few celebrities and lawmakers.

They also traveled to the Florida state capitol to confront lawmakers, chanting “Vote them out” outside the Senate chambers.

Sarah Boothe, an OHS senior, said advocating for change alongside the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is something she and her friends are prepared to do.

“We keep fighting for a change that the older generations aren’t doing,” Boothe said. “When you see middle schoolers, even, participating in this kind of thing, it shows parents who might not have been fighting for that change, if this is important to their children’s future, it should be important to them, too.”

Those who would like to send letters of sympathy or support to families of the shooting victims can mail them to Diane Wolk-Rogers Stoneman Douglas High School, 5901 Pine Island Rd. Parkland, FL 33076.