Student organization speaks out against gun violence
Following the rise of gun violence in schools across the country, a small group of high school students in The Woodlands decided it was time to stand up and speak out.
The students formed the Woodlands chapter of Students Demand Action in late April, part of a national activist movement by high school and college students to affect change by demanding politicians take action on gun legislation and school safety.
The organization, which currently has 10 members, grew from group leader Annika Gallaway’s personal Girl Scout Gold Award project that brought a speaker to her school, The Woodlands High School, each month to educate local teens about various social issues. The topic of gun violence in the United States spurred Gallaway and a few of her classmates to do more.
Rebecca Fox, the tools and technology leader of Students Demand Action, helped organize The Woodlands High School walkout on April 20 that honored the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. She said the organization is trying to raise awareness of gun violence and keep the momentum for change going.
“We’re hoping to really bring awareness to the issue of gun violence in Montgomery County specifically and also give momentum to the national movement with Students Demand Action and help push for stronger legislation in our state and nationally,” Fox said.
Gallaway, Fox and Olivia Novak—who is a College Park High School junior and event leader for Students Demand Action—also organized a vigil for victims of the more recent shooting at Santa Fe High School. More than 40 people attended the May 19 vigil that was organized in less than 24 hours.
Aside from organizing walk outs and vigils, Students Demand Action members are reaching out to politicians in the state urging them to do something besides sending thoughts and prayers.
Fox said she signed an open letter to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott “asking him to take action and push policies on gun reform.” The letter effort was organized by the Houston chapter of Students Demand Action and Moms Demand Action, and it was published as a full page advertisement in the Houston Chronicle.
Novak said it is important for students to become involved because they are the ones directly affected by school safety or a lack of it.
“I’m a student right now. It directly affects me so I felt it was important that I join and give a voice to help change something that directly affects me and all my friends,” Novak said.
Fox added that students everywhere need to keep the momentum going.
“I feel like it directly affects me as a student. I organized the walkout at our school and even after that I didn’t want to lose momentum with this movement so I’m really glad Annika started this because it really helps us keep going and helps the students to still be able to work on it,” Fox said.
One concern the group has is that adults and politicians may not take them seriously because of their age. Gallaway said they hope since students are the ones affected by school shootings that students’ voices will be heard and politicians will listen.
“(Our age) is one of the issues but I think with all of the school shootings in the media, the fact that it does personally affect us, balances that. Just the fact that we’re directly affected and that we’re standing up (and saying something) about it,” Gallaway said.