Shooting away their memories


Do you remember the Letter People on PBS? They personified phonics. Miss A “achooed” all the time. Mr. T had tall teeth. Mr. M was a munching mouth. That is what I remember from kindergarten.

In first grade, Mrs. Perperno made me feel special. I wrote “DN” beside answers I left blank. When she asked me what it meant I told her “I don’t no the answer.” N for know. The Letter People did their job. She showed the whole class because I was letting her know what I didn’t know and it helped her. That is what I remember from first grade.

Mrs. Knowlton made me learn to spell my first name. My mother always called me by my middle name, and that is all I knew how to spell. I was really mad at Mrs. Knowlton for this because I had no attachment to this name, and knew I would never use it. I have since had it legally dropped. This is what I remember about third grade.

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine Hsu, 6

Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

Ana Márquez-Greene, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6[22]

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison Wyatt, 6

Above are the children who won’t get to tell us what they remember about elementary school. They were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. That has been six years ago, if you are counting.

I loved high school. I loved having friends. I loved playing in the band. Mr. White, the band director, always said “Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.” I still follow his mantra. My English teacher, affectionately known as Mamma Meg, taught me about personality types, and let us all take the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. There was homecoming, and prom, and powder puff football and arriving to school late because we went to McDonald’s for breakfast. That is what I remember about high school.

Cassie Bernall, 17

Steven Curnow, 14

Corey DePooter, 17

Kelly Fleming, 16

Matthew Kechter, 16

Daniel Mauser, 15

Daniel Rohrbough, 15

Rachel Scott, 17

Isaiah Shoels, 18

John Tomlin, 16

Lauren Townsend, 18

Kyle Velasquez, 16

Above are the students who won’t get to tell us what they remember. They were murdered at Columbine High School in 1999. This was 19 years ago, if you are struggling with the math.

In 1981, there was an assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan. In 1993, 12 years later for those of us keeping up with the timeline, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act was signed into law. The legislation required background checks before the purchase of a firearm. A section of the law prohibited shipping or transporting a firearm. Some of the instances of not being allowed to ship or transport are conviction of a criminal act; unlawful use of a controlled substance; and mental illness. You see, White House Press Secretary James Brady was paralyzed in the assassination attempt and died 33 years later from wounds attributed to his injuries. James Brady did have time to tell about his memories of elementary school and high school before he succumbed to his murder.

When will our children be as important as a press secretary? How many children must be sacrificed before we enact sensible legislation to protect our youngest citizens?

Alyssa Alhadeff, 14

Scott Beigel, 35

Martin Duque Anguiano, 14

Nicholas Dworet, 17

Aaron Feis, 37

Jaime Guttenberg, 14

Chris Hixon, 49

Luke Hoyer, 15

Cara Loughran, 14

Gina Montalto, 14

Joaquin Oliver, 17

Alaina Petty, 14

Meadow Pollack, 18

Helena Ramsay, 17

Alex Schachter, 14

Carmen Schentrup, 16

Peter Wang, 15

Listed above are the victims of the Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This happened last week.

Now is the time. Now is the time to stop pretending we are protecting gun owners, when we know we are only protecting politicians and the money they take from the National Rifle Association. As of October 2017, Louis Jacobson reported “If you add together all of the NRA’s contributions to candidates, parties and leadership political action committees between 1998 and 2016, it comes to more than $13 million.” Do you have any idea what $13 million dollars could do in a classroom? You and I both do. But do you know what $13 million will not do? It will not tell us the memories these victims had about elementary and high school. I encourage you to remember that.

Juliet Cassidy-Floyd, Ph.D.

Oakleaf Junior High


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