Marjory Stoneman Douglas Students Visit MCPS for Town Hall Meeting

Hurelayn Abdu, Editor-in-Chief

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On February 26th, 2018 high school students from all over the county filled the Montgomery Blair High School auditorium for a special town hall featuring students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school – the site of a school shooting that took seventeen lives on February 14th. Congressman Jamie Raskin, a Blair parent, helped organize the event.

Though the event had only been announced the night before, the large auditorium was packed. After everyone took their seats, Blair Principal Renay Johnson, a former PB vice-principal, welcomed everyone and then gave way to Blair’s choir which performed some inspirational songs including “Rise Up” by Andra Day and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

Shortly after the performances, Congressman Raskin explained that he organized this event “ to make sure we have young people from all the [local] schools represented.” He added that, “we didn’t have that much time to organize it, but I was thrilled that Ms. Johnson opened the doors of Blair.”

While briefly speaking on the topic of gun control, Congressman Raskin expressed that he believes that the aftermath of this shooting won’t be like the other school shootings we’ve had because of the passionate work of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, and because, “this is the generation that will insist upon change.”

Congressman Raskin then introduced Stoneman-Douglas students Jaclyn Corin, Delaney Tarr, Sofie Whitney, Alfonso Calderon, Alex Wind, Kevin Trejos, Ryan Deitsch and Chris Grady. Joining the students on stage were Stoneman-Douglas alumni Matt Deitsch and Kaylyn Pipitone along with their congressman, Ted Deutch. The crowd responded to the group with a standing ovation. They were joined on stage by MCPS students Angelique Wong from Rockville High School, Daniel Gelillo from Richard Montgomery High School, Emily Dohler-Rodas from Albert Einstein High School, Olivia McCarren from Bethesda Chevy-Chase (BCC) High School and Rachel Shereikis, Jedediah Grady, Alix Swan and Abigail Landesman from Montgomery Blair High School.

The students then took turns introducing themselves and addressing the crowd. During the event, the group explained that they had spent the day meeting with congressional leaders, including Speaker Paul Ryan and civil rights activist John Lewis, but that they were “normal teenagers” just like those in attendance.

The group then explained what they hope will happen next now that the whole country is watching. They emphasized the importance of voting by citing a startling statistic: “Only 1 out of 5 first time voters show up,” noted Matt Deitsch. Immediately after this comment, Deitsch’s younger brother Ryan responded, “let’s make that 5 out of 5.”

Beyond expanding the number of voters

Beyond expanding the number of voters, the students from MSD urged MCPS students to engage with politicians and tell them about the issues they care about. They also emphasized the need to get more youth involved.”

, the students from MSD urged MCPS students to engage with politicians and tell them about the issues they care about. They also emphasized the need to get more youth involved.  This involvement could include participation in the National School Walkout on March 14th and the “March for Our Lives,” a highly-anticipated event that will take place on March 24th in Washington, D.C.

They then opened up the floor for questions. Many of the questions students had revolved around what exactly the students are hoping to accomplish and what the #Enough and #NeverAgain stands for, and the MSD students were well prepared. They explained that there ultimate goal is comprehensive gun control, specifically regarding semi-automatic weapons and accessories to pistols. But, that they are also, actively trying to reduce the influence of the National Rifle Association (NRA) by making them  “a badge of shame” as Delaney Tarr said. Students from MOCO also presented the students of MSD with their plans to have walk-outs throughout MOCO high schools, where students will march in DC on March 14th.

The inspiring  event ended with a round of applause for the MSD students, during which Ms. Johnson presented the visiting students with “Blair Blazers” t-shirts, noting that they were trail-blazers themselves.

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Students Visit MCPS for Town Hall Meeting