Two dozen students from Hayes High School organized at the post office Monday afternoon and mailed letters to their representatives asking them to take more action about school safety.
Hayes English teacher Thomas Hering organized the event and said it came in the wake of the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
“About a week after the shooting, we’d been having conversations about school safety and I realized something needed to change how students perceive the whole issue,” Hering said.
Hering said before class, he now asks students two questions:
“What can you control?” Hering asked his students in front of the post office Monday.
“Ourselves,” they answered.
“What can you change?” Hering asked.
“The world,” the students answered again.
“By framing our lives, at least in that room for that 48 minutes if not throughout the rest of the day, in that concept of having the power to change the world even though we are only one person, I think that’s important,” Hering said. “That’s where #MailYourVoice came from, and that’s where essays came from, and that’s what I hope we carry forward for the rest of our lives.
Hering walked to the post office with students after school Monday to mail the letters.
Jordyn Love, a sophomore, said she believed it was important to write the letters to show that young people can be involved in issues.
“Even if we can’t vote, we can still do something to not let issues keep going,” Love said.
The messages contained in the letter varied student to student.
“I included what other states are doing, and how they are taking initiative, and how us in Ohio should be taking the same initiative,” said Haleigh Oliver.
Sophomore Jenna Justice said she wrote her letter about ways to make schools safer, including incorporating lessons in health classes to teach students to recognize signs of depression and suicidal thoughts in their fellow classmates.
Ethan Ramoutar said his letter was about school architecture and suggested design changes at schools that would make them safer, like having few glass-walled classrooms.
Alex West said she discussed an alternative to schools planning to pay for tens of thousands of dollars for guns or bullet-proof vests.
“63.7 percent of students in schools don’t have treatment for their mental health, and I thought that money would be better spent on counselors or material that would help them learn better in a school environment,” West said.
“There are so many different solutions,” Love said. “But the first step is to become united and do something as a nation, rather than just individual states. (Legislation) is the first step.”
The 24 students mailed letters from themselves and on behalf of their classmates who couldn’t make it because of other obligations.
“We’ve done our part,” said Maddie Hatton, a sophomore. “Now we hope that the government will do theirs.”
Emily Scheib said reaching out to lawmakers for change shouldn’t be controversial.
“It shouldn’t have to be controversial to take simple, but effective, steps towards protecting students,” she said. “It’s not unconstitutional to want protection.”
City of Delaware Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle was invited to the event by Love and said she was “very proud” of the students. She added their “voices will be heard.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.
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