Students Are Becoming Leaders Outside of the Classroom

In 2018 alone, more students have died in school shootings than U.S. militants abroad. We are merely 21 weeks into the year, and there have already been 23 school shootings across America, according to New York Times. Some of these shootings, such as the Parkland shooting and the recent Sante Fe High School shooting, have galvanized a nationwide protest movement over gun violence, especially among students and teenagers.

On Wednesday, March 14, thousands of students stood up in their classrooms and walked out of their schools in a nationwide demonstration, one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Florida. The Morris Hills Regional District was one of hundreds of participating districts, and hundreds of students walked out to honor those killed during the shooting and protest gun violence. Mr. Consales’ graphic communications class designed a powerful banner to commemorate the victims of the Parkland shooting. In Morris Hills, the walk-out was deemed a successful act of school activism by many. Mrs. Bauer, who is a teacher and also adviser to the district’s Model Congress program said, “I think that it is admirable that Morris Hills’ administration has the stance of supporting organization and safety of student-led initiatives.  It is an indication of our school’s strength and our confidence in the students.” She, among many teachers and students, encouraged the administration and students for supporting the walk-out, as well other student-led initiatives regarding school activism. Mr. Sylvester, who teaches history and also coaches tennis, wrestling, and lacrosse, conveyed a similar message, saying that school activism is “necessary” and that activism “has to come from a strong foundation with students truly understanding what they are fighting for.”

Researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine, Fordham University, and the University of Massachusetts tracked over 10,000 young people and their civic engagement. Interestingly enough, they found a positive correlation between youth political and social engagement and academic and financial outcomes. Thus, youth civic engagement seems to be linked to later success.

The walk-out is just one instance of activism that students like us can engage in to be more involved politically. There are plenty of meaningful opportunities to volunteer or be involved in activism. The first step to youth civic engagement is being informed. Do you know about the candidates for New Jersey’s upcoming primary election? Or about the National Rifle Association’s views on gun violence and gun laws? Staying informed on contemporary issues will allow students and young people to think about themselves and their possibilities for the future. SGA President Gabe Korish agrees with this message and is an avid supporter of school activism. Korish believes that we students not only have the power to make our voices heard, but we should and will make our voices heard for the better of the community. He said, “We forget, or maybe are never told, that we should care and that we should let our voices be heard. So, with this now in mind, let’s keep open minds and bold spirits in learning from others, engaging in discussion, and championing our beliefs.”