Fighting for change

#NEVERAGAIN movement gains momentum


photo by Bridgette Hanh

Senior Camryn Willett passes out orange ribbons during lunch. Willett, along with senior Courtney Ring and juniors Avery Watson and Valeria Rivera made the ribbons themselves and passed them out every Wednesday.

Ahilyn Aguilar, Editor-in-Chief

On Feb. 21, the first school walkout took place and senior Courtney Ring stood up and spoke to honor the 17 victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Later that week, four students, juniors Avery Watson and Valeria Rivera along with senior Camryn Willett, contacted Ring and decided to all meet up at Panera. Sitting down, the group decided to brainstorm ideas to spread the #NEVERAGAIN movement to the school and encourage students to take action.

Wednesday, March 14, marks a month since the Parkland shooting, and although administrators haven’t been consistent when it comes to handling school protests and movements, walkouts and movements have only increased since then.

After they met, Ring and the other three decided to form a group and begin the movement at school. They were inspired with multiple ideas that brought awareness to the issue, from writing letters to Parkland victims, to passing out voting registration instructions and decorating the school’s fence with cups that spelled ‘Never Again.’ Before proceeding with these ideas, Ring decided to contact principal Mary Williams. After sending Williams an email and then meeting with her personally, Ring’s ideas were quickly shut down.

“Dr. Williams gave us the approval to do the ribbons and the shirts,” Ring said. “However, she didn’t approve the cups because she said it was too political, didn’t approve the voting instructions because seniors already had a talk about voting and didn’t approve the letters because she said people could send nasty letters to MSD.”

Even though the group’s first idea was to encourage students to make their own orange shirt and wear it every Wednesday, they decided to pass out orange ribbons instead. On March 7, the group showed their first attempt to bring awareness to the Parkland shooting by giving out orange ribbons in the front of the school to students who came in.

“Camryn and I saw someone in our English class wearing an orange heart pinned to her shirt on the first day of the walk out,” Ring said. “We then realized that a lot of people don’t have orange, so making orange ribbons free and available would encourage people to show support and care.”

During this time, the students also focused on designing a shirt that showed support to the victims and demanded change. From the start, the group had their mind set on having the names of all the school shooting victims since the 1999 Columbine High School shooting on their shirt. Once they came up with a final design, which was an orange shirt with the name of the victims on the front and the tag ‘#NEVERAGAIN’ on the back, the students started pre-selling them for $5 in the cafeteria.

“We’ve sold almost 50 [shirts] and we hope to continue to sells after break, which is when they will arrive, so that students can wear them to out walkouts,” Ring said.

The group has encountered challenges like finding more volunteers as well as obtaining permission from administrators to continue their movement at school. The group has been trying to encourage people to make a change with them by creating a Twitter and Instagram account (@hagertywalkout) where updates are posted as well as continuing to pass out ribbons every Wednesday. They have also tried to maintain their movement limited and follow administration’s policies, which has restricted the activities available for them to do.

“There’s [only] so much you can do with little manpower so I’ve been trying encourage people to reach out to us or to contact us through our social media.” Ring said. “At Hagerty we’re all rule followers so, at time like this, we are not trying to step out of the boundaries; I’m just trying to encourage those who are scared of breaking the rules to feel more confident and speak up.”

The group plans on continuing this movement with the goal of bringing awareness to the issue and encouraging others to participate in the movement. For Willett, making the group bigger is important since she believes that with more people, more impact occurs. Because of this, the group hopes to get involved with schools such as Seminole High School and Oviedo High school as well as middle schools like Jackson Heights.

“It’s evident many people want to get involved, which is why we started the movement,” Willett said. “Changes like this can’t happen with one or two people alone. There’s power in the numbers and bringing all the activists together in one place gives an idea of how many people care.”

Inspired by other schools such as Seminole, Ring along with Rivera, Watson and Willett came up with ideas on how to hold their own peaceful protest and pursued it. The group scheduled their own next walk-out on March 30 in the football stadium. At 2 p.m. Ring and the group members encourage students to wear orange and bring posters with them as well as speak up during it. A balloon release is scheduled during the walk-out as well, and news stations will be present.

“We’re doing this because we want the issue to stay in everyone’s minds,” Willett said. “People must fight for a change when they feel that the government is not operating in the best interest of the people. With no fights, there’s no change.”

Timeline of events for #NEVERAGAIN movement at school


Want to help the victims?

Stoneman Douglas family, friends and supporters have created multiple websites for people to donate and help raise funds for the victims as well as multiple causes; here are some of these websites:

  • ORANGETHEORY MEMORIAL FUND 100% of the proceeds will go to directly to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to help them improve and deal with the tragedy.  Donate here.
  • IN MEMORY OF JAIME GUTTENBERG – Family of victim Jaime Guttenberg is creating “Orange Ribbons” an organization whose goal is to address schools safety issues. The funds will benefit this organization. Donate here.
  • ALEX SCHACHTER SCHOLARSHIP FUND – Funds money for music scholarship honoring victim Alex Schachter. Funds will also go towards helping increase security at the school.  Donate here.
  • MEADOW POLLACK MEMORIAL FUND – Helps raise money for funeral arrangements and provides the victim’s family long-term counseling. Donate here.

GoFundMe campaigns for Stoneman Douglas victims: