Hill’s Students Respond to the Parkland Mass Shooting


Image by Deborah Horn From right to left: Kaia Paulsen, Sean Shikowitz, Beck Kerdman, and Gabe Broadman.

Two days after the gruesome mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2017, four Pascack Hills sophomores declared that this action will be the last of its kind. Sean Shikowitz, Kaia Paulsen, Gabe Broadman, and Beck Kerdman all united and created a location where students could show their support to tightened gun laws in reaction to the loss of 17 innocent children.

On Friday, February 16, these four students were able to set up a table within the cafeteria with pre-written letters students can sign, paper and laptops to write an original letter, a virtual petition to sign, and an area for open-space communication about the recent shooting. In the 50 minutes of lunch that this table was active, they were able to receive 80 signatures from students that are committed to seeing change.

Not only have the students taken part in and created the in-school petition, but they have continually promoted their Change.com petition that is made to Make School Safe Again. This campaign has reached 3,476 signatures as of Tuesday, February 20.

This event came shortly after the tragic event that caused a death of one from our community. At moments as such, teens need to take the most action for change to actually happen. Paulsen said, “I think it’s important for our generation to try to inspire change after tragedies like the one in Parkland, Florida because our country is plagued with shootings to the capacity that no other country is, so we clearly need to take action if we want anything to change.”

Although topics such as gun control could be viewed as one that children and teens should not have to worry about, it has been one that has been increasingly on the minds of school aged children. In order for this to change, the teens that are affected are the ones that must inspire and fight for change.

Shikowitz said, “Teens now need to take a stand for the sake of our future. America’s current situation with a lack of gun control directly affects teens — we shouldn’t have to feel unsafe walking into school. If we, as teenagers, want to see change, then we have to be the ones to initiate that change. We are put in a position where WE have to take a stand for what we believe in for the sake of our future as Americans. This is no longer only about adults and those purchasing guns. This is about our safety as students.”

She continues will explaining her overwhelming amounts of gratitude for all those who have taken part in a petition that she feels is important for teens to contribute to.

Kerdman said, “As teenagers living in the USA, we may not all have the ability to vote yet, and many of us feel frustrated at the lack of political progress we see after incidents like the Parkland shooting. However, living in a democratic country gives us the ability to voice our opinion by contacting our government representatives. We wanted to be a gear in the machine of resistance to gun violence by showing our congressmen how important this issue is to us, in hopes that it will make legislative solutions to gun violence, be it gun control or improved mental healthcare, a priority to them.”