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In the wake of the Marshall County High School shooting, our team, like the rest of Kentucky, was in conversation about what it meant to feel safe. Some conversations revolved around physical measures, like firearm restrictions, metal detectors, and school resource officers, but we wanted to have another equally important discussion: that about school climate and safety. 

We held a statewide teach-in and rally at the state capital, which corresponded to the marches organized by Marjory Stoneman Douglas students and students across the country. The teach-in supported students wanting to advocate for better school climate and safety, and the rally featured students from across the commonwealth sharing their stories. 

Though our team faced rain and freezing weather, the rally and teach-in sparked valuable discussions about safety, community, and the place of school climate work in making our schools the best they can be.

We weren't finished after the rally, however. We have continued to advocate and lobby for more holistic school safety since then.

Rally Speeches

We gather for safer, more
empathetic, and more loving schools

By Emanuelle Sippy & Nasim Mohammadzadeh

On behalf of the Student Voice Team, thank you for joining us today at the Kentucky State Capitol, even despite the weather. My name is Nasim Mohammadzadeh, and with me is Emanuelle Sippy. We’re members of the Student Voice Team, a youth-led organization that supports students as partners in improving Kentucky schools. For the past six years, the Student Voice Team has worked to amplify student stories in education decision-making, and we do so again here today.

I Never Expected to be a Part of the List

By Keaton Conner

Heath High School, West Paducah, Kentucky. December 1, 1997. Three students killed, five wounded. Westside Middle School, Craighead County, Arkansas. March 24, 1998. Four students and one teacher killed, ten wounded.

I've Gotten Used to It

By Shermane Cowans

Even though we all have lost many friends to gun violence in our community, we were shocked by what happened in Marshall County and Parkland. Schools are supposed to be a safe place.

Our Generation is Just Packed with Violence

By Te'Osha Raglin

Adults—even our own parents—just don’t seem to understand how bad it’s gotten. When the student shot himself in the hand in our school, I was like, this can happen at any high school. But for my mom, it was the last straw. After having a gun pulled on me while riding the bus home from school, sophomore year.

Gun Violence is Not Just a Black Issue

By Shana Berryman

Gun Violence is not just a Black issue. The Marshall shooting, that was not just a black issue. The Parkland shooting, that was not just a black issue. People treat shootings differently based on the race of the shooter.

Mental Illness is Just an Illness

By Jack Bradley

Like everyone else, I was devastated when I learned about yet another high school shooting. Probably unlike most everyone else, I was also became really upset when I learned that the shooter was believed to be autistic and to have ADHD. Why? Because I am autistic, and I have ADHD.

So Many of Us Walk Through the Halls Every Day Fearful

By Allison Tu

Oftentimes, when another shooting hits the presses, it’s framed around claims about the shooter’s mental health. For many people, there is an almost automatic association between mental illness and these horrific episodes of violence. But this is a misconception, one of the most dangerous and pervasive ones in the world of mental health.

Why was My 12 Year Old Self in Possession of Something so Powerful?

By Will Powers

I came here today to rally alongside passionate and intelligent students advocating for students’ safety in schools. But I also came here to provide a unique and often unheard perspective on the issue of gun control. I grew up and live in a small town in southern Kentucky, Somerset. I love my town, from our school traditions to our beautiful lake; But underneath all of the beauty, traditions, and mom & pop shops, there is a prevalent regressive culture and deeply rooted in this culture are guns.

To All Who Have Questioned the Power of Youth

By Sanaa Kahloon

Our legislators are aware of this movement, but I’m not sure they understand that this is about more than just our physical safety. This is about our fear, our frustration, our anger, and above all else, our hunger for change. We can all agree that innocent children should not be killed at school or anywhere else. Just in 2016, 33,636 American lives were cut short due to gun violence, counting suicides and accidental discharges, both equally as tragic.

Without Action Prayers Are Meaningless

By Hiatt Allen

The only thing people seem to say anymore after a tragedy is that their thoughts and prayers are with those affected. And I get that, to some extent. The tragedy is fresh, it is emotional and it’s hard to know what to say to someone who has gone through such a horrific event especially, when it’s not happening in your community. And thoughts and prayers are comfortable, easy, and politically correct.

No One Was Listening

By Austin Bowman, Don Trowell, Faith Henning, & Khamari Brooks

Freshman year, there was a gunman in our school. He was a student, and he shot someone, but it was the wrong person, over an iPad and money. He darted out of the school, and we were on lockdown for three hours. We were all in different places. I was in the band room closet which is supposed to be made for band instruments but fit 50 plus kids in the class. We were like little sardines in there.

Do Not Let This Momentum be so Easily Dismissed

By Bryan Padilla

Kentucky is my home. That’s why I’m here today. That’s why I must say—with a heavy heart—that the bottom line is that many of us, as students, parents, and educators, feel that our schools are not safe. Right now, we are seeing yet another wave of momentum behind the voices who remind us over and over again that the gaps in our schools’ safety are unacceptable. With that, I urge you: do not let this momentum be so easily dismissed.

Green County Does Not Feel Like Home

By Ashton Bishop

Being raised in a small town and rural community, I grew up around guns. Guns are everywhere in Green County. and it’s not out of the ordinary to be outside and hear someone fire a rifle or to see a hunter to leave their gun in their vehicle during school.

The Ability of One Inanimate Object to Corrupt

By Santiago O'Neil & Will Byerman

"School Climate” refers to the overall “feel” of a school, an average consensus of the mood among students and administrators. A multitude of variables go into creating school climate, including the workload of students and staff, the social dynamics between students as peers, and our relationships with the aforementioned adults. These factors look different at every school, but consistently influence the belonging students feel or the lack thereof.

The Public's Shock That We Care is What Holds Us Back

By Annie Stauffer

In January, there was a shooting at Marshall County High School. Since then, we’ve had two gun threats at my school in Owensboro, and I know friends across the state have had similar experiences. What happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School ignited a flame within students across the country. And what Kentucky needs to know about school climate and safety is that that flame—the one that will drive us to take a stand and fight for schools that feel safe—is here to stay.