Students, communities call for prevention against future school shootings

In light of the recent “March for Our Lives,” below are two speeches given by seniors Makayla Stover and Asa Hodrick at the March 14 walkout, displaying what many Sycamore students feel should be done in response to prevent future school shootings from happening. These were shared with us with permission to republish.

Makayla Stover:

“Good morning, everyone. My name is Makayla Stover, and I am a senior here at Sycamore. On Feb. 14, 2018, seventeen lives were senselessly taken at Stoneman Douglas High School due to gun violence. Today, we will honor not only the lives of the victims but of the survivors as well. They have proven that they will not be silenced and that this horrific tragedy that they endured will not be brushed aside.

“So today is a special day. Today, March 14, 2018, one month later, we are making HISTORY. By stepping out here today, you all are joining thousands of other students across the country in saying ENOUGH. Enough inaction. Enough thoughts and prayers. Enough pain. Enough sympathy. Enough fear. Enough gun violence. We are walking out because we deserve to feel safe in our schools, in our neighborhoods, in our homes, and in our country. We are walking out because we’re tired of hearing about ‘just another’ mass shooting. We are walking out because we’re tired of there being no change. We are walking out because ENOUGH is ENOUGH!

“Today alone, more than 96 Americans will be killed by gun violence. Of those 96, seven will be children. Since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when the people here today ranged from ages eight to 12 years old, there have been more than 7,000 children killed as a result of gun violence. Since then, nearly nothing has been done to prevent this from happening again.

“This ends now. Our generation, the generation being dismissed as the ‘ones eating tide pods a few weeks ago,’ IS becoming the image of change in America today. We are demanding action, and we are demanding it now. We are not going away, and we refuse to be silenced. Let this be a call to action. Let your voices be heard in every way possible. Register to vote. Advocate for the change you wish to see in your communities. Participate in local campaigning. Be educated on the topics you are passionate about. And never lose that spark in you that brought you out here today to help make sure this doesn’t happen again. To quote Mikel Jollett, ‘When your children act like leaders, and your leaders act like children, you know change is coming.’

“Before we continue, we would like to thank Ms. Michelle Mueller from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Deborah Cox from Local 12 News for their unwavering support for us. We are so incredibly thankful. Now we will be honoring the lives of those who died during the shooting in Parkland, Florida.”

Asa Hodrick:


“Seventeen. It takes but one voice, one individual to impact all others. To be nurtured for nine months, then nestled within the bosom of life is the most precious blessing before us. Living, loving, laughing: these are elated elements of the human experience. Despite the gift, our time allotted is short. We all live on borrowed moments until the reaper comes to collect.

“Some of us pay the price untimely. Unwillingly, seventeen teenagers dropped their token of life, adding to America’s rising debt ceiling of murder. Bodies drop constantly, and none of the victims ever receive recompense. Every day someone falls before a gun as hot shell casings litter the crime scenes. One final flash before blackness and the sites they traveled become memorials. Communities ever changed, lives forever gone. Just as you and I, many of them were looking forward to prom, attending university, and maybe starting a family in a few years. But there will be no graduation, wedding, nor last dance. Their relinquished lives forever on pause as they’re lowered into eight by six holes in the ground. Seventeen smiles fade into stone cold expressions of emptiness. Just as you and I, they were artists, athletes, scholars, and above all, humans. But they faced a preventable and premature fate. Bullets pierced their bodies and ripped our hearts. In their final moments, light fades, and colors congeal into black as they laid in pools of red. Their families’ lives now shattered, and their peers innocence now tattered. All the while it took a pathetic and deranged peer with a gun in hand and malice in mind. The nation attends their funerals, holds rallies, and survivors advocate for their namesake.

“Other countries rebuke America’s propensity to violence. We face so many similar travesties that it’s become ingrained in our culture to feel little empathy for the fallen. Their names become statistics, and homes become burial grounds. Although this could’ve been avoided, authorities and civilians alike find it appropriate to do nothing. Many times I’ve been told by academics that the pen is mightier than the sword. And yet I know of no pens moving to deter further bloodshed. Our governing bodies have been too busy policing criminals; as a result, there’s been no place to prevent future crimes. Within the last two weeks there have been a couple more school shootings. The victim count rises, and morale lowers. There’s been much debate over preventative measures, but no great action by officeholders.

“And so it’s up to us in this generation to enact change. It may take our flicker of energy in action to light the wick of America. We will be the dominoes to topple our leaders into action. I have witnessed the warmth of our youth. And so I call upon you all to urge the upper echelon into action. We must stretch every glimmer of hope within our hearts and shine as a unit. For tomorrow, it could be any of our lights that flickers and extinguishes. As of today, with righteousness as our fuel, we shine beneath this orange to carry the flame of those seventeen.”