Behind the Movement: Kayla Fatemi and Kyra Gines


Elly Haushalter

Seventeen speakers stand at the front of the large crowd outside of SCAHS. “I chose to speak because it’s important to me, both as a student and a budding activist to make my voice heard,” said sophomore Kyra Gines.

Kaylee Richards, Staff Writer

March 14th marked one month since the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people in its wake. Assemblies, memorials, and political marches happened worldwide to recognize the victims and survivors.

Outside the main doors of State High, about 300 students gathered in the bitter cold to memorialize these victims. The ceremony was organized and led by student leaders from State High.

Kayla Fatemi, a senior, and Kyra Gines, a sophomore, were two of the students credited with organizing the event. After the event, the two were extremely happy to see that so many students showed their support. “The coolest part was looking up and seeing every single classroom window full of students watching with the windows cracked open so that they could hear,” said Fatemi. In classrooms that have main entrance views, students could be seen through the windows. “The support and interest was really heartwarming and it gave me a lot of hope for the future.”

Fatemi and Gines are two students who are extremely passionate about school safety. Although the memorial on March 14th was not intended to be political, they wanted to send a message to lawmakers that they want to see change.

Since these ceremonies happened globally, those who participated hoped that the survivors of Parkland feel support from around the world. “I think that [the survivors] were definitely touched. It really showed students as a united force hoping to make schools safer,” Fatemi said.

The memorial was prepared a few weeks in advance. Organizers were extremely happy with the large turn out.  “We had only expected about 200 [people]” Fatemi said. “I think the most important part of it is getting as many students involved along the way as possible; it is truly a collaborative effort.”

However, Kyra Gines was no surprised by the memorial turnout. “I was not particularly surprised by the turnout considered how relevant of a topic it was,” said Gines. “I will say, though, that I was impressed by all the people who came despite the cold.”

One of the main goals set by the organizers was to show the people as more than just a statistic of 17 people. Rather than trying to memorialize the victims as a group, the groups of speakers and organizers wanted to recognize individual speakers. They wanted to truly memorialize the people they were. “They were 17 real, living, breathing people. I think this message got across to students and made them realize the weight of this tragedy,” Fatemi said.

The memorials around the world represented that the 17 people that were killed will not be forgotten. “My biggest take away is that teenagers are so incredibly capable in society,” Fatemi said. “There’s been a lot of backlash around the nation that students don’t know what they’re talking about but we clearly do. There’s this rising generation of voters who are angry and upset about school shootings and are going to vote in favor of whoever supports laws to change this.”

At the end of the day, both girls hope that a change is made to make schools safer. “I would like to think that it helped to raise awareness around the topic, as well as send a signal. It was a kind of like saying ‘We know that [the shooting in Parkland is a] horrible thing has happened and [school shootings] will keep happening, so we’re going to do something about it’. I’m really hoping that it impacted them in a way that makes them want to be more involved as well,” Gines said.

“Speaking out for what you believe in is one of the most empowering and humbling experiences there is, and I felt just that. I gained the voices and solidarity of hundreds of students that rallied with us and the rest of the country, and that anything is possible when you make it your passion and give it meaning,” Gines said.

Whether people are simply memorializing lives lost of standing up in protests, Gines and Fatemi, and so many others, hope drastic changes are made in schools. Not only do they want to make schools safer, but they want to be the generation that ends gun violence.