York responds to the Parkland tragedy


Photo courtesy of Kate Larson

Interact Club President, William Parpan, writes encouraging letters to Parkland students with fellow members.

There have been over 1,600 mass shootings in the United States in just the past six years. In response to every single one of these, there have been prayers promised and condolences shared, but there has never been a response as passionate and public as that of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The high schoolers have taken to the streets, as well as to social media, to try and make sure what happened to them won’t happen to anyone else. They have started a momentous campaign to enact change in our country’s gun laws by forcing politicians and policymakers to acknowledge and address the issues with gun laws as they are, and that spirited determination seems to have infected almost every high school in the nation, York included.

Several clubs have prepared responses to the tragedy that happened there, either hoping to show compassion to the victims or assist them in their crusade for change. A group of students have even scheduled a walkout as part of the countrywide protest against current gun control laws.


Student Council

Students signed a banner to be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to show that York is thinking about them in the midst of this tragedy.

In their own response to Parkland, StuCo is helping Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by writing letters and signing a banner to welcome them back to school.

“We contacted the school and were told the best way we could help would be to provide a banner to welcome students and staff back in order to boost their spirits,” Mr. Moran, StuCo advisor, said. “I believe it arrived the day that they went back to school.”

Placed out in the entrance and the Learning Commons for two days, hundreds of students signed the banner in support. Mrs. Drumm, Ms. Fleming, and a few more teachers helped design, organize, and ship off the banner to Parkland to try to make Marjory Stoneman Douglas feel safe again for their students.

“For the students at Stoneman Douglas, that must have been so scary to come back to school,” Mrs. Drumm said. “I think being surrounded by a visual display of support is beneficial. A signature doesn’t change the world, but I think we feel like we are all invested and we have their back.”

York students like student body president, Olivia Pechous, thinks that it’s great that the support is coming from kids their age.

“I thought it really hit close to home because a lot of us are also high school students,” Pechous said, “so we can really relate to the kids in Parkland. Something that we wanted to do was show our support, so they could get support from other kids their ages.”


Interact Club

Photo courtesy by Kate Larson
On Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, members of Interact Club met up in room A278 to write letters to the students affected by the Parkland school shooting.

In response to the school shooting on Feb. 14, students of Interact Club gathered to write letters to the students of Parkland, FL., hoping to give the students affected something positive to read when they return to class.

“When I heard about the shooting, I was in shock and heartbroken,” said junior Kate Larson, vice president of interact club. “I knew that writing letters wouldn’t make a huge change, but it was an act of kindness to show them we care so much about them!”

A friend of Larson’s lives in Florida and she reached out to Kate telling her that the community was looking for letters to give the students when they returned to school.

“We wanted to give them words of encouragement and tell them that they were going to be okay and that we’re praying for them,” president of the club William Parpan said. “They’re obviously going through a harder time than any of us could even imagine, so we just wanted to give them something that they could see when they go back to school, just to have a positive outlook on things.”

Interact Club wanted to let the students affected by the tragedy at Stoneman-Douglas know that they have support from students all the way up north and that they if ever need anything there are people out there here for them.



Photo by Rachel Perry
Junior and Empower member Niamh Horan carefully crafts a letter to Illinois politicians.

Inspired by the strong will of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting survivors, EMPOWER members are taking matters into their own hands by sparking action and conversation across York. On Wednesday, Mar. 7, and Thursday, Mar. 8th in the College & Career Resource Center (or CCRC- located across YSS) during 4th, 5th, and 6th period lunch they are sponsoring a letter-writing campaign open to all students.

Letters are being written to both local politicians in order for students to voice their concerns for the future and to students at MSD as a message of support and encouragement. Multiple resources will be available to students as a way to help them write their letters.

“As a club, we have been trying to collaborate with all types of students across the school in order to get a broader voice about what we want to do in response to the disaster,” freshman Ava Uditsky, who is at the forefront of the letter-writing campaign, said. “We are a reflection of what’s happening down in Parkland. We are similar in the sense that it could happen here just as likely as it could’ve happened there.”

However, change cannot be made with one person or one club. EMPOWER calls upon Dukes to offer support and compassion to those affected by the tragedy in Parkland.

“Having one person do it is great but when everyone in a school does it or a lot of people at school end up writing letters is going to have a greater effect when they see all of these letters on their desks,” sophomore Matthew Tully, member of EMPOWER, said.



On Wednesday, March 14 the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER has organized a nationwide movement wherein students and faculty at schools–including York–will walk out of the building. They will go outside at 10 AM and will stay outside for 17 minutes to symbolize the 17 lives lost at the Parkland shooting.

A group of students (who remain apparently anonymous) is the organizational team for York’s chapter of the walkout, their main communication vehicle being their Instagram page @yhs.walkout. They are encouraging students to not just stand around for 17 minutes, but rather engage in an active discussion with one another regarding the issue at hand. Some students are even preparing speeches to give at the event, which they submit to the administrators of the Instagram page for review. 

“We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020,” the caption of their first Instagram post said. “Join us in saying #ENOUGH!”

Although the administration does not have a hand in organizing the walkout, they are not discouraging it.

“We will treat a student’s desire to participate or to not participate in these demonstrations equally,” Superintendent David Moyer said in a letter to students’ parents. “We respect our students’ rights to protest, and we will support those students, while also ensuring our staff continue to provide instruction and supervision to those students who choose to remain in class.”

Whether you just want to write letters to the victims of the shooting so they know you are thinking of them or you want to take part in the national protest against current gun laws, York will be able to accommodate you and encourages that you find whatever way to (safely) speak your mind.

(Any questions concerning the walkout can be direct messaged to the Instagram account @yhs.walkout)