Haverhill High Students to Protest Gun Violence: ‘We Have to Be the Change’

(WHAV News file photograph.)

Members of several Haverhill High School student organizations are mobilizing ahead of Wednesday’s national day of protest and remembrance of the lives lost in Parkland, Fla.

As junior Keighley Credit tells WHAV, Haverhill’s walkout will memorialize the students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, but more importantly, it will call for change.

“This whole movement is student-led. Since the heartbreaking Parkland shooting, a lot of my peers are demanding action, rather than sending “thoughts and prayers” on Facebook,” Credit said. “The students are really angry about how easy it is to get a gun in some states. We believe that we need to take it into our own hands. We have to be the change. We finally believe it’s our turn to change things and to be the future.”

In a letter to parents, Principal Beth Kitsos said no student would be penalized for taking part in the 17-minute ceremony, which begins at 10:01 a.m. when students switch classes. Students intend to gather near the bus drop off area and are asked to wear orange in support of gun control, said Credit.

To get the word out, Credit and her peers in the Violence Intervention Project held so-called “unity summits” in recent weeks.

“A lot of people look at us like at us like we’re just kids, but we’re going to be the future. There’s no running from that,” the student activist said. “We’re going to be able to vote and we’re going to run this country some day. The support from the administration and across the Haverhill community and around the nation means a lot to us and we find that we’re getting a lot of that.”

Haverhill High has taken a proactive approach to keep students safe, beefing up security and having teachers detail active shooter protocols, said Credit.

Credit hopes this week’s walkout will have a lasting impression on the school community.

“I hope there’s a conversation. To ignore these issues and say that we’re just kids is very close-minded. It’s a sad conversation, but it has to be present, Gun control has to be talked about,” she told WHAV. “It’s people’s lives—including children—we’re talking about.”

Students from around the country will stage their own walkouts starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. In the case of inclement weather, the Haverhill contingent will move their walkout to Thursday.