In the Aftermath…

Lauren Berta, News Editor

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The shooting in Parkland, Florida was a frightening moment for students across the country. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a school just like many. Even if students do not know anyone directly affected, the situation still hits close to home. For yet another time, as has been the case too often in recent years, safety was at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
While the news was still current and the issue of school safety had not yet faded to the foreground, a group of Homestead students started an initiative.
It started when student leaders were called down by Park Ginder, principal, after school on Feb. 27 to discuss what Homestead’s response should be to the school shooting in Parkland
The student leaders came to the meeting with many different viewpoints and opinions on the issue.
“The clubs (where the student leaders came) are Unity Club, YAF (Young Americans for Freedom), Young Progressives and Student Government,” Regan Jones (12) said.
Most of the group Ginder gathered left after a short discussion with him, but around twenty students remained long after the others had left.
“After the meeting, there was a group of us who thought nothing happened from that meeting,” Maddie Minobe (12) said. “We wanted something to happen.”
The students who stayed were passionate about school safety and put their minds together to come up with a way to create change.
“We all had the shared interest to promote change in school safety after the shootings over the last few decades,” Lumyah Habib (11) said. “We wanted to get together and do something about it.”
The students are a very diverse group and not just in political ideology. The group has been faced with the challenge of coming together on a very controversial subject. In every discussion the group has, members of both sides of the political spectrum voice their opinion. However, that has not deterred progress.
“(Someone) might disagree with what someone says in the meeting, but they’re not going to attack them or come after them because they know we’re there for a reason,” Jones said. “We’re there because we’re all passionate about school safety and protecting kids.”
The group decided that the one thing they could agree on was that they wanted something to happen. That something was different for everyone, but, to paraphrase Courtney Asher (10), nothing was not an option.
“We want to focus on the fact that this is not a partisan issue,” Habib said. “It’s not about political ideology; it’s strictly about school safety. We’re bringing together all these different viewpoints and I think that’s really important.”
Ginder heavily supports this sentiment.
“When Dr. Ginder brought us together, he talked about it being healthy,” Minobe said. “The group having different opinions is healthy for us.”
These students call the initiative Student Voices United, also known as SVU.
“The main objective is to give students a platform to talk about change in school safety and what they would like to see,” Minobe said.
Members of SVU stressed that the platform they wish to give students is not contingent on what they are going to say. No matter what students believe, they are welcome to participate in order to have their voices heard.
They plan on creating a platform through their letter writing campaign. Students are invited to write letters to their congressmen asking for change, or any other message they want to send.
The group has provided a form letter for students, as well as a bullet point list of suggestions for what they might want to include. Students can find it on their Twitter page, @studentsvu. Letter submissions are accepted through the group’s Gmail, [email protected], or they may be submitted in person to members in the IMC in the morning, or to members in or outside of school.
“Our officials are meant to represent us, and they cannot do that without knowledge of our positions on these hot button issues,” Ruthie Puckett (12) said.
The group doesn’t just want to unite the different sides of the political spectrum, or even Homestead, but has their eyes set on Northeast Indiana.
The mission statement of the group is on their Twitter account. It reads: Our mission is to unite the students of Indiana in order to spark change in school safety because we are students who care about our lives and the lives of future students.
The group is uniting different schools by coordinating with student leaders in different places.
“A lot of schools in districts in and around Fort Wayne are getting their own SVU started up,” Jones said.
The members of SVU are primarily upperclassmen, so one worry of the group is that movement will die out once they graduate. Therefore, SVU has focused on reaching short term goals, particularly the completing of the letter writing campaign near the end of April. This doesn’t mean there isn’t more to come from the group, though.
“As it always happens after every event in the case of school shooting, (the passion) dies down really fast,” Minobe said. “But if there’s some fire that keeps the ball rolling, I think the sentiment will stay.”

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