Students on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are joining their peers around the nation in taking a stand against gun violence. MPB’s Evelina Burnett was at one gathering in Ocean Springs Wednesday morning.
At 10 a.m., during a morning break, students begin to gather in Ocean Springs High School's inner courtyard.
Senior Caroline Wiygul welcomes them, speaking through a megaphone:
“We’ll now have a moment of silence dedicated to each of the victims of the Parkland, Florida, shooting … Alyssa Alhadeff. She was 14 years old.”
As the noisy chatter of hundreds of teenage voices fades to stillness, Wiygul goes on to read all 17 names, followed by moments of silence for each one.
“Scott Beigel. He was 35 years old.”
After all the names were read, senior Wyatt Miller spoke briefly, urging his classmates to make their voices heard. In an interview after the gathering, Miller says he hopes the demonstrations will show lawmakers that the students are serious about making changes to gun laws.
“We have so many shootings like this, several a year, and nothing ever changes, you know? And it makes us feel that either legislators don’t care about us, or they’re intentionally just ignoring us. So I hope our demonstration today lets the legislators know that something’s got to give, you know. We can’t keep living in fear like that.”
Ocean Springs High School Vickie Tiblier said students had organized the demonstration themselves, while coordinating with school officials to ensure the safety of students.
“I was very proud of them, I was very proud of every child that was out here. I think it’s a moment that maybe the students will find their voice. That’s what excited me most about the whole situation, was that, the students have a voice. And I think they’re able to use it, and they’re realizing they’re able to use it."
Other Gulf Coast schools, including Pascagoula, Biloxi and Long Beach high schools, also held gatherings on Wednesday morning.