Prom Night & The Importance of Civic Engagement

Author’s Note: On May 18th, 2018, I was greeted at school by the excited commotion of my senior class discussing their plans for prom that night. A few hours in we hear a sentence that has become too familiar: “There was another school shooting.” Ten people had lost their lives at Santa Fe High School. This poem is my response.

 Graphic by Alexandria Armenteros

Graphic by Alexandria Armenteros

I awoke on an anticipated day

to find my classmates bustling with excitement.

Gathered in our breakout rooms, complaining:

Why did we have to be in school today?

 

We waited:

Playing games.

Laughing.

Counting down the seconds until the clock struck 10:30 AM.

Free to leave to prepare for our momentous night.

 

Suddenly, the room grew quiet.

We were told that Santa Fe High School was also counting 10.

Silence hung heavy in the air.

Silence-

Silen-

Sil-

STOP.

 

When did numbers cease to become numbers

instead replaced by people?

They were so much more than a statistic.

They were awaiting their momentous night.

They were us.  

 

We waited:

Awaiting any more news of this tragedy.

Gathered in our breakout rooms, reflecting:

We are so lucky to be in school today.


Gun violence is an ever-growing issue plaguing our society. As a student-teacher for my school’s elementary speech and debate team, the week after the Parkland shooting, my students ages 7-9 wanted to discuss the issue of gun control– I have never felt so insignificant. How can I assure my students that they are safe when our laws do not protect us? We must urge our elected officials must do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to this violence.

Change is always met with resistance, but those who use the Second Amendment to silence us seem to forget it ensures “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” not the right of the people to kill senselessly. This is why it is crucial to support regulation. Here is how you can help:

  • Vote: If you meet the qualifications to vote, make sure to vote in this year’s midterm elections. Electing qualified representatives that reflect the views of the constituents allows our democracy to function effectively.

  • Write: Encourage your representatives whether it is your local mayor or congressperson to address issues you believe are important. If your views align with theirs, you may also choose to write to them to thank them for their dedication to their constituents. It is proven that writing is still one of the most effective ways for citizens to impact the legislative process.

  • Speak: Use your platform. Speak to your friends, families, classmates. Whether you have twenty followers or thousands, raise awareness of the issues that are important to you. If you believe there is change to be made, create it!

The time is NOW. We must be willing to call out wrongdoings and not let anyone silence or intimate us because of their position of power. We are the voice of the change. We have had #enough, and we will ensure #NeverAgain.


Author: Melanie Rodriguez

Melanie Rodriguez from Miami, Florida is a rising college freshman at Florida International University majoring in Journalism. In addition to her love for the written word, Melanie is also an avid performer and producer. She combines her passions with her dedication to political activism to approach these topics in a creative manner; she hopes to create a non-profit organization in the near future to address these issues through youth interaction. Melanie is eager to work with Make Muse to enact social change through creative means.