After Uvalde Shooting, Nantucket Students Stage Walkout In Protest Of School Gun Violence

Nantucket Current •

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“When, just when, will the pile of our bodies be enough for them to make a change?” Nantucket High School senior Maryann Vasquez-Cruz asked her fellow classmates, teachers and administrators Thursday during a student-led walkout in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

More than 100 students gathered in the Hall of the Whale for the walkout in protest of gun violence and inaction on gun control policy by Congress. The walkout was one of thousands happening across the country as part of a nationwide day of protest and rallies by high school students from coast to coast.

In poignant remarks, Vasquez-Cruz read the names and anecdotes about each of the 21 victims - 19 children and two adult teachers - who died inside the Robb Elementary School in Uvalde during the shooting on Tuesday.

"We deserve more than those thoughts and prayers which only come until we are laid on the ground, bullet through our chest,” Vasquez-Cruz said. “When will it be enough to see that this is not right? When will it be enough so that we can feel safe at school? When will it be enough for them to see that gun regulation is needed?”

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The massacre in Uvalde was the deadliest school shooting since the murders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012, when 26 people, including 20 children, were killed.

Vasquez-Cruz was joined by two other seniors, Kathryn Kyomitmaitee and Angelica Oviedo-Fermin, along with teacher Marita Scarlett, in sharing remarks during the walkout on Thursday. The gathering was sanctioned by the Nantucket Public Schools administration, and superintendent Beth Hallett and principal Mandy Vasil were both in attendance.

“This is absurd,” Oviedo-Fermin said. “Children are being slaughtered in their classrooms and their fight to survive is being normalized across the country. We shouldn't have to live with the constant fear of ‘what if’. Enough is enough but it never seems to be enough for some of you. Open your eyes. Look at the state of our well being. How many more children are going to die before positive change is made? The wait ended long ago, we demand immediate action. Enough is enough.”

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The seniors who spoke Thursday are part of a generation that was born shortly after the school shooting in Columbine. Their education has been marked by routine in-school training and drills to teach them how to respond in the event of a shooting.

“I remember as a little girl when I was in my first lockdown wondering why there were people screaming outside of my classroom, why I was sitting in the corner, and why the lights were turned off and we were sitting in absolute silence?” Kyomitmaitee said. “I did not understand the magnitude of the situation as a young child, but have sadly come to learn about the deep, dark depths of society. We have come to a point where lockdowns are almost as commonly practiced as fire drills. Fire drills. Why do we have to live in a generation where it is taught that it is normal to be practicing for lockdowns when we are enforced, by the law, to come to school where it should be one of the safest places for us to be in?"

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