by Zoe Rader
In the final month of school, WHS seniors rejoice in the fact that they’ve scored a “kill” while playing the water-gun game Assassin. However, this senior ritual is difficult to watch without thinking that some teens across the country are dealing with kills in an all-too-real way.
Gun violence is a reality for some high school students, especially in Chicago where street and gang violence create an increasingly dangerous environment. Consequently, some teens have become severely injured or have died before they receive their high school diplomas.
ow is the time to become aware. Graduation is approaching. National Gun Violence Awareness Day just passed last Thursday. And Assassin is coming to a close. Students need to recognize those who will not graduate from high school due to gun violence.
In Chicago, gun violence is a horrifying and too frequent disaster. The New York Times reported that over this past Memorial Day Weekend in Chicago, 64 people were shot—6 of whom died. Veronica Lopez, a 15-yearold high school student and cheerleader, was among the killed. According to chicagotribune.com, 15-year-old Fabien Lavinder died from a gunshot on May 31, becoming the 66th and most recent fatality out of nearly 400 victims of gun violence in Chicago last month.
Unlike other cities, such as New York or Los Angeles, where gun violence is a decreasing issue, Chicago’s gun violence has been particularly horrific and is increasing rapidly. According to chicagotribune.com, 243 people have been killed due to gun violence in Chicago in the first 5 months of 2016. These numbers illustrate the increasing fear of Chicago citizens, specifically for teenagers trying to obtain an education.
Of course, Assassin is not meant to be offensive. But it is still important for WHS to realize that gun violence is a reality and we should start helping where we can. Rather than just using the Snapchat filter for National Gun Violence Awareness Day, students should learn about this pressing crisis. Could Assassin continue? Yes. But seniors should actively consider the lives of high school students who actually fear walking to school each morning.
This year at graduation, we should think of those students in Chicago who were deprived of their well-deserved walk across the stage. Although almost completely absent from Westfield, gun violence is clearly a growing crisis, and as students of a privileged high school, we need to recognize this and take initiative.