by Sam Andrews
On March 14th (The one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting), nationwide walkouts were held in both remembrance of the lives lost in the Parkland shooting, and in protest of the lack of regulation that allowed this act of violence to occur. The Watershed School came out in support of this protest, organized by Dani Cooke and myself. This document aims to illustrate as much information as possible about the protest that occurred,as well as its results in Watershed.
What was the Stoneman Douglas/Parkland shooting?
The Stoneman Douglas shooting was a mass shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February, 14th, 2018 (Valentine’s Day). Nearing dismissal time, somewhere between 2:10 and 2:30 PM, Nikolas Cruz opened fire on the first floor of the building and proceeded onto the second floor before dropping his weapons and exiting the crime scene, blending in with fleeing students.
At 3:00 PM, the school was officially declared an active crime scene, and after further investigation, the Broward County Police Department confirmed 17 deaths and at least 15 injuries, making this event one of the deadliest known school shootings in world history.
Why do we consider this shooting to be indicative of a larger problem?
Nikolas Cruz has now been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. Prior to the attack, he legally obtained at least ten firearms including those used in the shooting, passing multiple instant background checks despite his extensive violent criminal history including reports of child/elder abuse, domestic disturbances, and public disturbances.
The Broward County Police Department received multiple (estimates range from 23 to 45 calls) anonymous tips regarding safety concerns surrounding the suspect. Still, nothing was done to restrain his access to high-powered firearms and assault weapons.
How has this event affected the U.S?
Historically speaking, many of the mass shootings that have occured in the U.S have drawn short-lived media attention that has died down without causing much impact on our national legislation or way of life. However, this does not seem to be he case with the Parkland Shooting.
Recently, the U.S has been experiencing a massive surge in activism, and the reaction to the Parkland shooting is a prime example of this. Since the shooting occured, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School—as well as many others across the country—have started multiple movements. These include the #ENOUGH movement as well as widespread organized protests and walkouts which have already instigated adjustments to legislation surrounding gun control in Florida through their demand for change.
This protest today has been directly precipitated by the efforts of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and is meant to help continue the forward push that they have started.
What are Watershed students doing about this issue?
In order to help push this movement further, many of us will be participating in multiple forms of protest.
The first way in which we will be protesting is simply by walking out for 17 minutes during the school day (one for each of the victims who died in the shooting). This not only sends a message to those around us about how we feel, but also simulates how a school day might look in the future if we do not successfully incite change.
The second way we will be protesting gun violence is by holding a write-in and flooding our senators’ and representatives’ offices with messages, requests, opinions, and demands including:
What were the results of our efforts on March 14?
Overall, 57 members of the Watershed community participated in the walkout itself. Over sixty letters addressing the role Congress should play in the gun control movement were written by the community; based on the total number of members of faculty and student who attend the Watershed School (110 members), slightly more than 51% of the school participated in the walkout, while over 60 individuals—including parents, teachers, students, administrators, and even grandparents—participated in the write-in.
The protest can be considered even more successful when it is taken into account that March 14th coincided with Watershed’s senior ditch day, and no 12th grade students were present on that day, meaning that Watershed had at most 98 potential participants present. Under the circumstances that we take into account the missing seniors, 58% of potential participants attended the walkout.
Most importantly, however, the effects of the protest move far beyond the immediate Watershed community.
How you can help further?
If you want to help further, you can do so by continuing to protest by yourself, or along with many of the already-organized protests occurring in the future. Such events include:
The greatest way that we can honor the memories of those lost is to make sure that this never happens again. Thank you for the contribution and support that you have shown, and thank you for any work that you may do in the future.
To contact our Colorado Senators:
Michael Bennet (D): Website: https://www.bennet.senate.gov
Phone number: 1+(303)-455-7600
Local office address: 1127 Sherman St., Suite 150, Denver, CO 80203
Email: ( Use “Contact Michael” link on website)
Cory Gardner (R) Website: https://www.gardner.senate.gov
Phone number: 1+(303) 391-5777
Local office address: 721 19th Street, Suite 150, Denver, CO 80202
Email: (Use “Contact Cory” link on website)
To contact our House Representative:
Jared Polis (D): Website: https://polis.house.gov/
Phone number: (202) 255-2161
Local office address: 1664 Walnut St., Boulder, CO 80302
Email: ( Use “Email Jared” link on website under “Contact”)
To donate to the victims:
To fill out a pre-written form of a letter to a senator:
by Dani Cooke
On Monday, March 19, head of school Greg Bamford responded to student concerns about a lack of transparency and confusion around the intentions behind Watershed’s increasing enrollment in an all-school community meeting. The idea for the presentation originated with the student council, who had been asked by many students to address larger class sizes over the past few semesters.
Greg cited finances as the primary reason for such growth, explaining that increased enrollment allows for more financial independence within the school (without which May Terms and mid-semester travel might not be possible). Increased enrollment allows the school to follow a trajectory of ceasing dependence on certain outside donations in favor of more autonomous self-reliance.
Many students, especially those who have attended Watershed for more than two years, express concern over the limitations imposed by larger class sizes on opportunities for field work and student-teacher interaction. However, there is also widespread agreement that these limitations are typically overcome, as mid-semester travel opportunities and incredibly exciting May Term options remain available.
Additionally, with a larger student body, more intellectual and cultural diversity is fostered within our small school community. The difference in the social scene within a school of one hundred and a school of thirty is massive, and many students, especially those in high school, appreciate the social flexibility offered by a slightly larger educational environment.
Perhaps the most important piece of information students took away from Greg’s presentation was this: the school’s growth is intentional. It is part of a clearly-mapped future plan that was created with Watershed’s best interests in mind; one which will adapt accordingly as Tim Breen assumes the role of Watershed’s head of school.