Greenwich High School (GHS) students held a Unity Rally today at the school to honor the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14, the entire Parkland, FL community, and all lives lost due to gun violence across the country. Student Government President Gregory Goldstein and his peers on the executive committee said just before the event this morning, "Today's event was student-designed and student-driven. We wanted to be able to come together in one space to be unified in delivering our message, rather than scattered about...", Greg continued in his speech to his classmates, "No matter what side of the political spectrum you may fall on, we can all agree that no one should go through school scared for their life....We are here today to bond as a school, community, state, and nation to say 'enough is enough'."
GHS students planned today's rally with the support of GHS administration and staff. GHS senior Sophie Lindh said, "our decision to collaborate with the GHS administration was an easy one to make; school safety affects all of us." They urged their classmates to speak out, make their voices heard, know who is representing them in government and making policy decisions, and to vote.
The event began with GHS senior Hannah Bein singing the National Anthem. GHS Headmaster Dr. Chris Winters made brief opening remarks, and GHS senior Ben Michals performed Taps, followed by the student speeches. To conclude the rally, Greg led the student body and staff in a unified cry, "enough is enough."
(Updated version of video with enhanced audio and coloring)
Excerpts from Student Speeches:
Gregory Goldstein (GHS Senior and Student Government President) commented, "My cousin was just a few doors down from where 17 innocent people had lost their lives. No student, while dealing with all of the other cards life hands us, should have to be constantly on high alert wondering if their life is at risk the moment they step into their school. It is our right to learn in a safe space. We live in a world where the institutions in which we are supposed to learn, grow, thrive, and cultivate new relationships are no longer just sanctuaries of learning but fortresses."
Sophie Lindh (GHS Senior and Student Government Representative) said, in addition to commemorating the lives lost due to gun violence, "we are also here to demonstrate our ability to use our voices to make a change...We believe that our duty as students is to inspire each other and promote action for what we feel passionate about, which can truly influence those who represent us. After all, representation is what we seek."
Alissa Landberg (GHS Senior and Senior Class President) said, "As students who are passionate and interested to get involved in all levels of government - local, state, and federal - we are determined to use our voices to make a change... I urge you all to remember this feeling, this desire to make a difference, to act. With school shootings now a national epidemic, we are no longer satisfied with detached messages of 'thoughts and prayers' from our elected leaders."
Willa Doss (GHS Senior and Student Government Representative) continued, "It is time for us to lead. Show up and support the causes you believe in, unequivocally demand your right to be heard. Attend rallies and protests. Research and get to know your local politicians and understand how their views align with your own. To that end, many of us as seventeen and eighteen year olds will be able to vote in the November 2018 elections. Our collective voice is resounding and unignorable, and our potential is limitless- lets get to work. This is about speaking up, speaking out, and getting involved."
Georgia (Gigi) Imperatore (GHS Junior) began her speech describing her day and concerns as a typical high school student, with a powerful transition to what her peer Emma Gonzalez from Parkland, FL must have experienced on February 14. Emma is "just a teenager like you and me. But her friends are dead; her high school experience will never compare to mine. On February 14th, when we dreaded going back to school after break, she feared for her life and the lives of her classmates. Now, instead of enjoying the last few months of her senior year, she is fighting for the lost life of her friend Carmen." She urged her peers to lead, "We are losing what high school is supposed to be. We have, however, gained something new. Teenagers aren't too 'little to know what's going on' any more; now we are the future leaders."
Gigi concludes, "Maybe high school is not only where we learn about revolutionaries, but where we become them."