To whom it may concern,
My name is Ana Sulentic, a senior at Madison High School in Middletown, Ohio. I am writing to you today in regards to the recent National School Walkout that took place last Wednesday, March 14th. This was a very controversial topic and even though many of the walkouts were being done in support of gun control, many were also being held simply to honor the victims of the Florida school shooting one month earlier. As vice president of student council I asked to have a meeting to discuss a potential walkout at my school. Immediately I could tell our school administrators would not be supportive and at our second meeting we were told there will be consequences for any student who participates in a walkout because it is “divisive and an act of disobedience.” Along with an hour of community service/detention this letter is part of my punishment because I decided to still participate in a walkout.
Upon much consideration, and as survivors of our own school shooting, I along with many others from Madison High School, decided that a walkout was imperative in showing that we support Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida. The walkout was not to politicize or divide, but merely to advocate for, and support those who are willing to bring about change, whatever way that may be.
As high school students, we will soon be a part of the real world and it is our responsibility now to support a change that won’t just affect ourselves, but our children and grandchildren. We believe no other student should have to be scared to go to school and no parent should ever have to fear that their child may not come home. This movement isn’t about dividing people based on political views, it is instead inviting people from both sides to share ideas for change. By participating in the National school walk out we acted along with students from all across our nation to show that school shootings must end. It doesn’t matter what political views you have, we can all agree that no more innocent people should have to lose their lives. With that being said, a walkout was not meant to be divisive at all, but rather to unite students and schools with the end goal of stopping school shootings.
We, as students, have been given the opportunity to use our voices and power to stand up for our rights. Since Columbine, 208 shooting incidents in schools across America have occured. And yet, we are almost numb to this statistic. It is our job to ensure that another school does not get added to this list. Because, it is not just a list. It is the loss of life, it is fear, and it is unacceptable.
While we understood the concerns of our own school administration, Madison Local Schools, it is disappointing not to gain their support. We tried to, and have made our reasons and message for having a walkout extremely clear. The goal was not to divide our community nor to be disobedient or to make a political stand. It was strictly about showing support for the victims and families from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and that no other school should have to feel this pain and loss that we and far too many others know.
I have no regrets that I willinging organized and participated in a walkout knowing there may be consequences, because it is something that I feel very strongly and passionate about. Throughout history, as shown by Gandhi and MLK, the right thing is not always accepted at first and it takes a few people who won’t let their voice be stifled to make the first steps for change. I am extremely disappointed that Madison did not support a student walkout. It saddens me that the decision was made in fear of how the school would look in the hands of the media, instead of the positives of having students who are willing to be leaders and have an active role in our community. The comments of community members that “children are to be seen and not heard. Their opinion don’t mean nothing,” shows that unfortunately, members of this community are stuck in the past. I may be in high school, but I am an adult, will be graduating in three months at the top of my class, and am legally allowed to vote, so yes I do think my opinion matters. We are the future and the fact that we were not supported just reaffirms why it was so necessary.
We decided that our voices were going to heard, regardless of whether our school supported it or not. For these reasons, 43 students from Madison Local Schools chose to rally together in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and ensuring the safety of students in schools.
As a member of the United States government I hope you will do your job to initiate changes that make our schools safer. I am a survivor of a school shooting that occurred two years ago and since then nothing has been done to make sure others don’t go through the same thing. There are many solutions to this problem, but the bottom line is that something needs to change. I truly hope you take the time to listen to the amazing kids around you that are finally standing up for our rights.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” -MLK