Heritage student leads protest

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More than a hundred people gather in Parkland to speak up about the current gun violence going on in schools. (Photo/Zoe Weissman)

Teen gunman kills 17, injures 17 at Florida high school.” “Gunman at a Texas elementary school kills 19 students and two adults before being fatally shot, officials say.” Sound familiar? Just four years apart, these events are just two of the many school shootings that cost the lives of more than a thousand students and injure many others every year. 

In response, survivors of school shootings and those who have lost a loved one due to gun violence gathered for a protest led by March For Our Lives (MFOL), an organization which advocates for gun regulation, June 11 in Parkland, to advocate for better laws regarding guns.

Incoming junior Zoe Weissman makes her stand against gun violence as she cries out, “We’re still here,” to speak up against the ignorance of gun violence in schools. (Photo/Madalen Erez)

Incoming junior Zoe Weissman, a survivor of the school shooting at Parkland, was able to direct the event. “It was my first time organizing an event of this scale. It was exhausting but so exciting,” she said. “It took lots of phone calls, emails, sleepless nights and money but we were able to pull off planning the event.”

Debra Hixon, right, and her youngest son, Corey Hixon, left, attend the protest to speak on gun violence and honor the death of Chris Hixon, a loving teacher, father and husband. (Photo/Madalen Erez)

For many, March for Our Lives is more than just an organization. “To me, March for Our Lives is a way for our generation to take action and protect our own lives,” Weissman said. Similar to Weissman, Debra Hixon, who is a Broward County School Board member, viewed the event with great significance. She attended March for Our Lives with her youngest son, Corey Hixon, who wore the shirt with the face of his dad. “My husband, Chris Hixon, was one of the victims at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I have spoken at many events similar to March for Our Lives to advocate for safer communities and schools by reducing gun violence,” Hixon said.

Singer MILCK performs at the MFOL protest. She wears the shirt with the words, “Make art not war,” as she honors the victims through her lyrics. (Photo/Madalen Erez)
Members of non-profit organizations Bullets4Life and Circle of Brotherhood, which strive to bring attention to ending gun violence, attended MFOL. (Photo/Madalen Erez)

Susan Kennedy, founder and CEO of Bullets4Life, an organization which makes bracelets out of used bullets, showed her support for victims and survivors by participating in the MFOL protest. 

“Bullets4Life met most of the survivors. We were able to honor them through our movement,” Kennedy said. Bullets4Life has been familiar with MFOL since the Parkland shooting and they have been at every one of the events with the organization, Moms Demand Action. “I felt human supporting the kids that survived. I’m a mother first over everything else,” Kennedy said. “No children should have to live in this madness that senseless gun violence created nationally.”

During MFOL, speeches were made, songs were sung and victims were honored. Individuals had the opportunity to express how they felt through their voice or their art. For those who missed it, this will not be the last time that a MFOL protest will happen in Florida. “March for Our Lives has big plans for the future,” Weissman said. “People can text ‘NEXT’ to 954-954 to stay up to date on our future plans.”

Kayra Su Dayi came here from Turkey in 6th grade and will be in 9th grade next year. She loves painting the pictures of nature or animals which she takes with her camera when she finds something captivating or interesting. Aside from art, she plays tennis and competes in speech and debate. She prefers to give informative speeches, but is still in the process of exploring the broad range of speeches. She liked to volunteer at Flamingo Gardens before the pandemic every weekend. She is a member of NJHS and interested to join more clubs next year!