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Read the Speech: Sophia Pastorius addresses a crowd of over 100 at recent “March for our Lives” rally in Wellsville

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As children, we were taught by our school a few drills to do if there were ever a threat at our school. A lock down, an evacuation, and a shelter in place. We practice those drills every year, as we do with fire drills. We’ve added two more drills this year.   

This year, there was a day where the school sent home to parents, a letter telling them that one of the days in the week was the most common day for school shootings. It was a warning, in case parents wanted to keep their child home, or potentially risk having to deal with the trauma of school shootings. I dare to ask, why do we know the most common day for school shootings? And I answer, because there’s been too many of them. My mother gave me the choice of whether I wanted to go to school that day or not. I did not want to go to school that day, but I did- because a friend told me to. They didn’t think anything was going to happen, so they told me to come to school. And even though there wasn’t a shooting that day, we were all scared of it, staying close by each other, constantly discussing where we would go and what we’d do if it did happen. And to this day I still think “what if it did happen?”

Students should not feel threatened to be in a building of learning. I should not have been scared to walk in the school that day, or any day. I should not walk into a heavily populated place and be worried. I mean, so many of the places we as people go on the daily- stores, banks, theatres, parks, concerts… schools- they’ve all been in the news for shootings. It’s painful to see and hear the news almost every day announcing a new occurrence. It’s been painful to have to think “another one?”. And I know that everyone deals with hearing the news, and being victims to these attacks, differently. The trauma and heartbreak impacts many at such a deep level in their hearts.

We must help each other heal and continue to fight so these things don’t keep happening. I stand here and believe that we will get through this time. One day, no one will have to deal with thinking “is this my last day?” when they walk into school, or a job, of anywhere else, ever again.

But we have to work to get there. Together. 

Sophia Pastorius is a student at Fillmore Central School and a member of Students Against Hate, a student-led organization that addresses social justice issues and discrimination at Fillmore.

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