As the country is conflicted with recent tragic events of the shooting at a Florida High School and other establishments, gun control is a prominent topic emerging in American conversations. Politicians and government officials are sending their Tweets and statements of sympathy and speaking of different ways to end such violence in America. Schools amp up their intruder drills and precautions and different strategies are put into place. Individuals share their thoughts on social media and debates transpire from there. All the while, students across the country are taking matters into their own hands.
After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, 2018, multiple survivors have become a media presence for change. Their interviews have been broadcasted on major news stations such as MSNBC and CNN. After receiving both negative and positive feedback, students organized a ẃalk-out in efforts for legislative action.
In response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, the students and staff at Hermann High School are looking for ways they can improve their safety and overall well-being.
“District officials continue to read the latest research about student safety and then discuss the research at administrative meetings and staff meetings,” said Dr. Hankins, Gasconade Co. R-1 Superintendent, said. “The District is providing ongoing training to the staff for active shooter and intruder preparedness. Students in grades K-12 practice drills for intruders, fire, tornado, and earthquake on a regular basis. At the High School level, students are given the opportunity to discuss safety concerns with the High School administrators and government officials.”
Hankins reached out to various state politicians and officials to visit and speak with students about their priorities for school safety. A representative from Senator Claire McCaskill's office responded and held a question and answer forum for students on Feb. 27.
“I contacted the Senators offices because some students voiced an interest in the topic,” Hankins said. “I believe in our student leadership at HHS and wanted to give students an opportunity to be heard. I believe that in order to make a difference in our world, we must speak up for what we believe in and are passionate about to the people that can assist us in making the world a better place.”
“It was honestly a refreshing experience,” Sabryn Englert (12) stated. “We have never really had the opportunity to do such a thing and I thought it was a good way to prepare us in case something did ever happen.”
On top of the forum, clubs throughout the school collaborated together to present a new program to students. Start with Hello is a program organized by parents of Sandy Hook victims that focuses on ending bullying, with the ultimate goal to help the mental health issue that is captivating the country.
Presidents from Hermann High School clubs such as FCCLA, FFA, Yearbook, DECA, NHS, FBLA, StuCo, and Drama, worked together to produce a plan to use the program to the best of its ability. This evolved to distributing duties throughout the clubs to involve as many people as possible. The program started with students watching the introductory video in their Bearcat times and followed with other instructional and informative activities.
“Being active in your role as a student, parent or community member is vitally important to the safety of our students at our school. All constituents should be actively aware of student behavior and report to the authorities any sign of concern,” said Hankins. “It is better to make a report and allow authorities to investigate than to ignore the signs and have an occurrence. Constituents are also encouraged to reach out to authorities with ideas that empower the safety of our students and staff.”