When Will It End?

Students exit Robb Elementary in Uvalde, and are guided onto buses by law enforcement .

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Students exit Robb Elementary in Uvalde, and are guided onto buses by law enforcement .

In 2019, I wrote an article for my middle school’s journalism program after the shooting at Saugus High School, one of the six high schools in my school district. In it, I implored the adults in power to do something—to stop this senseless violence. And yet here I am, 3 years later, once again mourning the loss of so many innocent souls. Nothing has changed.

 

So once again I ask: What has our world become? When did human life become so disposable? Why is it a pattern for kids to take the life of fellow kids and then end their own? Why are bullets used instead of words to express emotions? Why have the people in charge promised us solutions but never kept their promises? Why have adults so miserably failed us?

What has our world become? When did human life become so disposable?”

— Ella Blanco

I am one of the privileged ones—I attend an online school from the comfort and safety of my home. But I will always remember November 14, 2019, the day fear invaded my soul and held my heart captive. It was supposed to be a regular day, part of a normal routine of waking up, getting ready, going to school, doing homework, sleeping, and repeat. But in the span of sixteen seconds, everything changed. Two precious and innocent children were taken from us, and three more seriously injured, at the hands of their own classmate during a shooting at Saugus High School. I still can’t shake the feeling of sorrow for the families, for the broken dreams that will never be.

 

Today, I was studying for my Pre-Calculus and Trigonometry final when the news notification popped up on my computer screen. I could not believe what I was reading. Tragedy struck again: the second-largest elementary school shooting since Sandy Hook occurred, just seven months shy of its tenth anniversary. Nineteen families said goodbye to their children this morning, and two more to their family members, sending them off for an exciting day of learning. They did not know they would never be able to hold their children in their arms again or hug their loved ones. I cannot imagine the pain that the families of the eighteen young angels must feel—to have their innocent children taken away from them in a place that is supposed to foster their learning, teach them how to be the leaders of the next generation, and, most importantly, keep them safe. Instead, “school” is now synonymous with “fear” and “death.” Halls that were once filled with laughter and joy are muted.

 

We have learned that instead of focusing on our education, we have to constantly be aware of threats. We have grown far too accustomed to active shooter drills. It should have been obvious that when active shooter drills became mandatory, just as normal as earthquake or fire drills, that change needed to happen. And yet, instead of making America’s schools safer, we have been taught to “seek shelter, lock doors, stay quiet and out of sight, and in the worst-case scenario, run for your life.”

 

With the increase in hate crimes and gun violence, students know it is no longer a question of if a school shooting will happen at their school, but when. And this, this is not normal. This is madness. I refuse to accept that in the “land of the free,” we are prisoners of fear.

 

Why do we have to be scared as we go to school?

 

Once again, I am in the same boat: I am powerless. I’m still not 18; I can’t vote. I can’t be president. I can’t run for a political office.I can’t change policies. And if I am completely honest, I feel that the ones who can make a change have completely failed us. None of their so-called “fixes” have changed anything—and that’s if they even bothered to try. They’ve failed to protect us, our childhoods, and our futures. We are the generation that will rise up and take the reins from them.

 

We must choose a life without fear. We must choose to honor, respect, and protect our lives with all our might. We must act now.