Johnstown High School Students Stand Up Against Gun Violence

Photos: GJHS students gathered together to pay tribute to those who died in the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - Thousands of students nationwide stood up and walked out of their classrooms, along with their teachers and other faculty members. But why? Well, that day marked the one month anniversary of the horrible event that left seventeen students dead, and more injured. The deadly shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In a somber attempt to pay tribute to those lost and to stand up for what students believed, students walked out of their schools in a protest effort, standing up against gun violence. This outcry demonstrated their belief in tighter restrictions on gun sales and ownership to prevent something like this from happening again.

At Greater Johnstown Senior High School, students and faculty members took a slightly different approach to showing their beliefs, with students working together with the school administration to organise an event.

In a great display of the community and teamwork that exists within our school, a small group of students worked together with the administration to organize an event that would allow students to discuss their beliefs, pay tribute to the people who lost their lives a month ago, while remaining safe within the school.

Originally, the students’ idea for the event was for students to walk out of the school, lining up on Central Avenue in front of the school campus, in a protest against gun violence. However, Mr. Heinrich, a principal at Johnstown High School, shared the administration’s concerns.

“There had been rumors of people who felt differently about this topic - people who didn’t believe in tighter gun laws, who were planning to organise a counter-protest against our students,” said Heinrich.” We didn’t want to put our students at risk of any violence from those protesters, so we had to think of a way that the students could hold their event without putting themselves at risk.”

Madelyne Moore, one of the students who led the attempt to organise the event, explained that her reasoning behind working to put the event together was simple.

“There are frequent mass shootings across the country, and I believe that it’s due to senseless gun laws. Everyday citizens are able to purchase weapons of war for no reason except that ‘it’s their right’,“ says Moore. “I never really got involved with the gun-control conversation until the Parkland shooting, when I saw all of the students who were shot and killed and I heard someone say: ‘Many of them were making plans to go to college.’ And I thought that could easily have been me or my other friends! I knew I, as well as my peers, had to step up and demand change.”

Moore felt that the event was a success, with over two hundred students participating and paying tribute to the fallen students.

“The next step is a voter registration drive that the Junior City Council (which I am also a part of) will be holding as soon as possible. Students need to know that they need to vote AND protest if they want change,” says Moore. “I am hopeful that this event will continue to spark healthy debates and change in the way we think see guns in America.”

It’s due to students like Madelyne Moore and the others involved in this process, that we have a chance at making a change. If you believe in something, stand up for it. It’s your right, and it’s your responsibility as a citizen.

 My name is Mattheau Lee Sharp. I am 17 years old, and an aspiring photojournalist. 

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