2018-03-14 / Voice at the Shore

Kulanu kids speak out on Parkland shooting

Kulanu students compose a letter to their political leaders with the help of teacher Matt Moskovitz. Kulanu students compose a letter to their political leaders with the help of teacher Matt Moskovitz. Kulanu students sent this letter to President Trump and their local members of U.S. Congress following class on Tuesday, February 20, expressing their recommendations, thoughts, and fears regarding the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

“We felt it was imperative to address the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida,” explained Susan Weis. “We extended our break-time in order to give our kids an opportunity to share their thoughts, fears and reactions, under the guidance of Rabbi Weis and Social Worker Matt Moskovitz, who also teaches at Kulanu.”

After the discussion, Kulanu 11th and 12th graders wrote the following in a letter:

School should be a place where a student’s biggest worry is his or her upcoming chemistry test, where parents can rest assured that their kids will return home almost exactly as they were when they left, only with some added knowledge. It should not be a place where kids live in fear. It should not be a place for violence.

In light of the Florida school shooting, we, as American citizens, question why such shootings have become commonplace in our society. When did it become so routine to hear about the latest school shooting? Is this the new normal? Will it happen here, at Mainland or Oakcrest High School, at Ocean City or AC High? And why are we not doing more to prevent recurrences?

Students of the Kulanu School of Jewish Studies came together to discuss what this shooting means for our schools, for our community, and for our country. We discussed what we can do to prevent a tragedy like that in Parkland, Florida, from ever happening again.

At the start of our discussion, many students had the same general reaction to the shooting: Fear. How could this happen? And if it could happen in Parkland, could it happen here? Over and over, kids shared their newfound fear that their school could be next—that the place where, above all else, kids should be able to feel safe and secure, could be stripped of its protection.

Students suggested possible solutions: updated safety protocols or more precautions regarding school security. But why is it school policy that should change? The focus of this solution needs to shift. The solution is not what our schools can do differently, but what our country can do differently to ensure school-aged children everywhere do not have to fear for their lives when leaving for school in the morning.

Soon enough, the question of the hour made its way into our discussion: Why are ordinary civilians allowed to have military style weapons? It does not make sense. Why does a regular person need a semi-automatic assault rifle? It was designed for war; it was designed to kill people. And how was a 19-yearold boy able to acquire a semiautomatic assault rifle so easily?

The answer to the latter question was clear: In Florida, it is about as easy to buy a gun as it is to buy cold medicine. There are no background checks, licenses, or registrations required when buying a gun in the state of Florida, only proof that the buyer is at least 18 years of age.

This means that a person who is by law too young to rent a car can legally buy a weapon capable of taking someone’s life. That is insane!

This, in our minds, is what needs to change.

Written by the students of Kulanu School of Jewish Studies. 

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