Editor’s Note: The following speeches were delivered at a school rally and prayer service on April 20 at Bishop Lynch High School prior to more than 400 students being given an opportunity to walk once around the track.
By Gabrielle Gonzales
Bishop Lynch High School
Today is the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine, as you have probably heard many times today and throughout this past week. Our purpose in organizing this whole tribute is to bring us together as a school, as a family. Because even though we are young and we sometimes feel like we do not have a voice, we do; we really do. In fact, I remember just last week; I felt like I didn’t have a voice. I felt like my thoughts were futile, pointless…
But that’s not true, within a week, a very stressful week, might I add. Ellen (Daly) and I planned and stayed up, even later than we usually do, every day to give us as students the opportunity to unite together and honor all 13 people who sadly lost their lives in 1999. To make this possible we had a meeting with administration on Tuesday to come up with the best way to approach this, because our goal is not to divide us with politics, with Republican versus Democrat, but rather our goal is to unite us so we can work towards our rights as humans.
Now throughout this week, I have come to learn that many people do not know what happened on April 20th, 1999. Some people know a little about it, but not that much. Some have heard about it. And some people have never even heard of it until this week… 19 years ago on this day 12 students and one teacher died due to school violence. And part of this tribute is to honor all these lives that had been so wrongfully taken by school violence.
While all this is indeed horrible, tragedies have a way of bringing people together. They inspire many to use their voices and to stand up, in this specific case, we stand up against school violence. We have the opportunity to stop the hate, stop the violence, and start the love. While we’ll never be perfect, we know what’s right and we know what needs to be done. So therefore, I invite you to join us in the honoring of these 13 people: Cassie Bernall, 17; Steven Curnow, 14; Corey DePooter, 17; Kelly Fleming, 16; Matthew Kechter, 16; Daniel Mauser, 15; Daniel Rohrbough, 15; William “Dave” Sanders, 47; Rachel Scott, 17; Isaiah Shoels, 18; John Tomlin, 16; Lauren Townsend, 18; Kyle Velasquez, 16
Now at this time, I would like to take 13 seconds to sit in silence to honor the 13 lives.
This tragedy is not like any other tragedy. How? Well many tragedies have similar characteristics. But every time there are new and unique people who are unfortunately, involved, people who did not deserve to die, people whose lives were so unjustly taken from them because of school violence. A lot of us don’t know who these people are, we don’t know what they’re like, and we don’t know their thoughts. While all this may be true, it is so unfair that their lives were taken, these people had potential, they were good people. And because of this misfortune they do not get to continue being kind, generous, graceful, like they were before, because of school violence.
Like I mentioned before, we are not here to divide us. Our goal is to unite all of us to become advocates for change. To give all of us the chance to speak our thoughts and emphasize the fact that we all have a voice that can be heard and together we can be advocates.
And as my family tells me every single day… Sí se puede! Yes, we can!
By Elizabeth Garcia
Bishop Lynch High School
Today marks the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School where 13 beautiful souls lost their lives because of gun violence.
But we are also remembering every single person that has died because of gun violence. This issue has been talked about more than ever, and the youth have taken a stand and raised their voices about an issue that take people’s lives.
On Feb. 14, at Parkland, Florida, a former student walked into his old school and shot and killed 17 people. Seventeen lost their lives in only 6 minutes. Afterwards, the students of Parkland took initiative so this would never happen to anyone else. Since then other students have taken initiative; we take initiative today.
We as students, we as the youth are the future, the future that can shape the path for future generations. We cannot allow ourselves to become oblivious to what is happening in our country. We as the future generation can do amazing things and educate each other. Some of us will be of the legal age this year or next year to vote in a few years.
Our vote will count, but until then we need to speak up about issue that affect those around us, that affect us personally, that affect our earth.
Activism is an important thing we should all be part of. You may think we cannot stand up and speak up but we can.
You may think that your voice may not matter but it does. The students of Parkland have showed us that, students of color who have spoken out on these issues have been doing so for far too long. You might think that no one will listen to us because we are too young, but we are not.
We are literally planning our lives at 17, we have to choose a career for the rest of our lives. So I think we are capable of “old enough” to talk about issues that affect us, and our children, and our children’s children.
We can shape a better path for those who come after us.
By Ellen Daly
Bishop Lynch High School
At Columbine, it was 13. At Parkland, 17. At Sandy Hook, 27. At Virginia Tech, 32. Whether you’re willing to accept it or not, next it could be you.
My name is Ellen Daly, and I am a junior here at Bishop Lynch. Some of you may know me as the smart girl who doesn’t really talk a lot in class, but today, I’m speaking up.
I have never really believed that I had a voice until this very moment. For the past few years, I’ve sat by and watched as mass shooting after mass shooting has taken place, and I’ve felt helpless. I’ve witnessed government inaction to these tragedies and thought there was nothing I could do to help. Today, I am proving myself wrong. I am speaking to all of you, and I am taking action.
Our agenda today is simple. We come together as a BL community to remember the victims of the tragedy that occurred 19 years ago today. But as we all know, all the pain, all the suffering, all the shootings did not stop there. Because of this, we are not here just to remember. We are here to make a change.
We might not have been alive for Columbine, but we’ve all witnessed the aftermath of Parkland. We’ve seen how kids our age have been left to deal with the pain and endless frustration that comes with surviving a school shooting. We’ve seen these kids on the news, hosting rallies, doing interviews, and talking to politicians. I saw these kids on the news every day for weeks and wondered “Why aren’t any adults doing this for them?”
Young voices demand to be heard. Our generation offers a new perspective on school shootings than any other generation can understand. We grew up post-Columbine, in an age where we all had this weird mindset of thinking “It’s not gonna happen here,” while fully knowing that it could. It could happen anywhere.
We don’t have to stay silent. It’s easy to feel shut down by the stigma that discussing current events is “too controversial” or that teens aren’t old enough or educated enough to have valid opinions. Every single person in this room has a unique, individual perspective on the world. Your voice deserves to be heard… Before it’s too late.
I am here to attest to the fact that anyone can speak up. If you want to change something, do it. Holding onto your fears will never get you where you want to go. I’m terribly afraid of speaking in front of crowds, but here I am. Before our meeting with the administration on Tuesday, I told Gabby that I thought I was gonna throw up or pass out or both because I was so nervous, but then I did it. I went into the meeting, presented my ideas, and here I am. Speaking to all of you.
At this point you may be thinking, “What does all of this have to do with Columbine?” I am here to tell you that due to recent events, the focus of national news is on us, the students. Today is the anniversary of the shooting at Columbine, so now we are giving the students who no longer have a voice, a voice.
In a few minutes, we as a student body are going to walk outside and take a lap around the track. In doing this, we show solidarity with schools across the country in support of Columbine High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and countless others which have been affected by gun violence.
If you do not wish to walk with us, you are welcome to stay inside and participate in a student-led prayer service. But if you believe that “thoughts and prayers” aren’t enough, then follow me.
By Jane Onuoha
Bishop Lynch High School
We, as a student body, gather here today in tribute, in remembrance of those who lost their lives at Columbine High School in Colorado 19 years ago.
Nineteen years ago to this day hate won the battle, but love is winning the war.
As students at Bishop Lynch High School we have set ourselves in a Christian environment where we are constantly called to respect one another, to care, and to love. Ephesians 4:2 says “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
We live in a time where it’s easy to gossip, to envy, and to hate. High school naturally heads environments such as those. But we must rise above the status quo. We must set ourselves to a higher standard in order to produce a better environment not only for ourselves but for everyone around us. What you do here, what we do here and how we treat others has an impact, a lasting impact.
As a community we must strive for an environment filled with love.
As we continue on through this service I ask that you pause. Pause what’s going on in class and what’s going on next to you and really take the time to reflect on the events that happened 19 years ago.
Events that are reoccurring in our nation still. As you hear our speakers, think to yourself “Am I loving my classmates in everything I do?”