Hurricane alumna releases new song in response to school shooting
LOS ANGELES — Hurricane High School alumna Whitney Ann Jenkins was shocked to learn her friend and former teacher was working at a South Florida high school when a gunman went on a shooting spree on Valentine’s Day.
Coach Willis May, who had a long career at Hurricane High, was among faculty, staff and hundreds of students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when former student Nikolas Jacob Cruz, 19, allegedly opened fire, killing 17 students.
“When I heard about the shooting, my heart sunk, and I thought ‘not again,’” singersongwriter Jenkins said in a news release. “I had a lot of emotions right away — anger being very prominent.”
Coach Willis survived the shooting by locking himself in an office. But still, the tragedy hit too close to home, Jenkins said.
“May was my health teacher at Hurricane High School,” stated Jenkins. “He is extremely passionate about the subjects he teaches and as a coach he’s a great role model. I’m happy that he survived this horrible shooting, but I’m also very sad that so many people, including many students, did not.”
The Parkland shooting tragedy immediately prompted Jenkins to keep the memory of the victims alive through a new song she wrote titled “Enough is Enough.” The song also sends a message to lawmakers that now is the time to reform the nation’s gun laws before more innocent lives are lost, Jenkins said.
“The most important thing the politicians need to do is to listen to the students and actually hear what they are saying. Don’t ignore the children,” stressed Jenkins, who was a student at Hurricane High during the Columbine school shooting. “A lot of them are going to be able to vote in the next election. And they are not going to forget this. This is their life, they live with this fear daily, and it’s their future that the politicians are making decisions about.”
The song opens with the lyrics, “It was the spring of 1999, we heard the news of Columbine. We walked the hallways terrified. The years went by, more victims died,” sings Jenkins.
Jenkins says she was just a freshmen herself, with Coach May as her teacher, when the tragic events unfolded at Columbine. Following the events at the Colorado high school, Jenkins, then only 15, became very passionate and vocal about gun control.
“After Columbine, I remember being terrified, confused, upset and unsure of what was happening. When I was a senior, I wrote an award-winning essay for the Million Moms March on gun control and was invited to read it on the steps of West Virginia’s capital,” stated Jenkins. “To see that these school shootings are still happening stuns me, especially, since the Columbine shooting happened almost 20 years ago.”
Jenkins said she hopes her song helps to keep the conversation going about the need to address the nation’s mental health crisis and current gun laws before history once again repeats itself.
“This is not about liberal versus conservative or taking people’s rights away,” explained Jenkins. “It’s about valuing a life over a material object that was designed for mass destruction.”
The song is currently available on Spotify, iTunes and SoundCloud.
Learn more about Jenkins at www.whitneyannjenkins.com.