Ross School held a daylong teach-in in support of the National Day of Action to Prevent Gun Violence in Schools last Friday, April 20, joining more than 2,500 schools nationwide in peaceful protest. The event followed the National School Walkouts on March 14 and the March for Our Lives on March 24, and it is the third national mobilization since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The day was planned by a group of concerned ninth and seventh grade students who felt compelled to act. “We’re trying to raise attention,” said ninth grade student Caleb W. ’21. “This isn’t about taking away anyone’s guns. . . . Today we want to focus on how we can keep our school safe and what students and teachers can do to prevent gun violence.”
Ross students began the day with a series of consciousness-raising workshops, organized by grade level and designed to contextualize the problem of gun violence in schools and the rise of student activism in response to it. Middle school students engaged in guided discussions following powerful videos that included those produced by Sandy Hook Promise and interviews with Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the students who perpetrated the Columbine High School shootings in 1999.
High school students delved into issues such as media coverage of school shootings and student-driven activism throughout history. They also explored international gun laws, drawing on the diversity of Ross’s student community for clarity. Statistics show, for example, that American youth are four times more likely to die from gun violence than Canadian kids, and in Japan, the odds of being killed by a gun are one in 10 million—the same as being struck by lightning.
Following the workshops, students were invited to participate in a series of empowering activities, making protest signs to carry during the planned march while representatives from the League of Women Voters registered students of voting age. Their efforts yielded 13 registrants, which representatives said exceeded some of their public events. Other were given the opportunity to write letters to their local elected officials. Dean of Wellness Cathy Yun led students through a session of Metta Bhavana meditation, which focuses on cultivating love and kindness, while English instructor Joseph Kugelmass led a discussion about the possibility of talking someone out of their guns. At 10:00am, the students began their march down Goodfriend Drive and through campus, ultimately gathering on the Nike Green, where they observed a moment of silence, and student and faculty representatives were invited to share reflections.
“The Spiral Curriculum is all about action, change, and the role individuals play in it,” said Carrie Clark, Ross School’s director of academics. “Especially in a moment like this, where more than 2,000 schools are participating, students are seeing firsthand that individual actions aggregate to create large-scale change.”