For Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14 was supposed to a normal school day, with perhaps a little more love in the air as it was Valentine’s Day. Instead, Stoneman Douglas was faced with unimaginable horror as a former student entered the school with an AR-15 style gun, killing 17 students and wounding 17 more. Within a day, the school shooting had made international news. When senior Andrew Ricks heard about what happened, he immediately felt compelled to show support for the innocent lives lost.
“A lot of students wanted to walk out of class to show their support. The administration made it very clear to us that they didn’t want us walking out, but if we would like to do something before or after school we could,” said Ricks. “I realized that there was a need for something that students, faculty and staff could get involved in so they could show their support. It was then that I decided, why not be the one to ask Mr. Grisdale? So I did.”
Once Ricks had informed and collaborated with administration about his ideas, he was able to plan for an after-school rally in the back patio on Feb. 27. Students and teachers were invited to speak about the importance of remembering the tragedy and preventing gun violence from happening on school campuses. Many family members and even news stations also came to support Stoneman Douglas that afternoon.
“I was feeling so many emotions at once, but was very proud of all of the students who decided to come. I was so nervous when ABC 13 out of nowhere pulled me aside and started interviewing me,” said Ricks. “It was thrilling that so many people had come to show support, especially when the only way we got to publicize it was by word of mouth.”
In addition to planning the after-school rally at Tompkins, Ricks is also helping organize March for Our Lives Houston, held on March 24 at 9 a.m., which will be starting at Tranquility Park and then marching about 10 blocks to the senator’s office.
“The official March for Our Lives is a march and rally in Washington, D.C. organized by the survivors of the Parkland shooting. It is set up by students and will be run by students,” said Ricks. “MFOL Houston is a sister march and rally organized by about 70 local students. I am part of the fundraising, social media and arts committees.”
Ricks is glad that he was able to bring Falcons together to address gun violence prevention on school campuses.
“My favorite part of the rally was at the very end. We released balloons for the 17 victims. I thought it was really sweet and it symbolically gave a lot of students closure,” said Ricks. “I really hope that everyone will now realize that students will no longer sit back and be quiet. We are here, and we demand that our voices are heard.”