Interview with Parkland student

Hailey Chaikin

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MISA Testing
May 22, 2018
Junior Casey Sherman from Stoneman Douglas HS. Photo Courtesy Julia Nestel.

Junior Casey Sherman from Stoneman Douglas HS. Photo Courtesy Julia Nestel.

On Wednesday. February 14. 17 students were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The Pitch spoke with junior Casey Sherman, who was present at MSD High School on this tragic day. Here’s her story:


How did you feel in this situation, tell us about your specific experience on Feb 14th? 


How did this change or alter your view on gun violence, if it did at all?

“I think my opinion in general has stayed the same. My understanding has increased [in that I realize] it is a situation that has multiple factors play into [it]. While guns are an essential issue, there are other issues, like regulation for mental health in schools. I think that overall my opinion has stayed the same, I’ve just become better at advocating it.”


What is your stance on using metal detectors in schools?

“I think that metal detectors are a little crazy, honestly. I think that if you’re adding all of these things, it’s just going to make school feel like a place that’s not safe, and I want to be able to feel comfortable. I think that there are so many steps [that can] be taken to increase security, but I don’t think that [metal detectors] are a necessary one.”


What is your stance on teachers being armed?

“I think that’s the worst idea ever. My friend Drew actually has a really good analogy. He said, ‘If two kids are on the playground and one of them has a really pointy stick, what would be the best solution to the problem? Do you take the stick away from the kid, would you give the other kid a stick, or would you give every kid on the playground a stick?’ It just emphasizes the point in more basic terms, that the easiest solution is not to give everyone a gun, it’s to take away the guns from the people who can’t use them or any guns that really can harm people. By giving teachers these weapons, you’re allocating increased funds to pay for their training and you’re also expecting that in panic or in high pressure they’re going to be able to use them correctly and not harm themselves or, god forbid, hit a student instead of the target that they were aiming for.”


Do you feel like this tragedy could have been prevented?

“I absolutely do. [Nikolas] Cruz was reported so many times starting in elementary school [and] all through high school until he was expelled and on the FBI watch list. They visited his house I don’t know how many times it was, it was either 18 or 23 or 29. It was an insane amount of times because they kept getting reports and flags on him. There’s videos of him outside shooting his gun and target practicing with a Trump hat on his head. Here were just so many things that could’ve been done and nobody did anything.” (Reports later revealed police were called to his house 39 times according to CNN)


How has your school system supported you? Have they made any special calls or reached out?

“Our principal [has supported us], I know he’s been on social media a lot and on the news. He’s probably one of the most supportive people in all of this. He was actually on a flight to Paris [when] he got the call. To go back home when you’re about to go on this amazing trip on Valentine’s Day is a heart wrenching thing, especially in a town that he cares alot about. So he immediately came back, he saw the devastation, he was outside. He cares a lot about the student body, his faculty and his staff in general. He has sent a ton of messages and updates out just letting people know the progress of the school. There have been memorials outside the school, we had a vigil in the park and now there’s new memorials set up outside the school outside the freshman building where people have been able to leave flowers and teddy bears.”  


How did you decide to advocate on this issue? What was the first step you took?

“For the first couple of days a lot of people were grieving. The kids who are the faces of the movement now, they put their grief into interviews and getting the word out as quickly as possible. I think that by the time I was ready to help, I saw all that they had already been doing and I knew that this was something that I wanted to be a part of. It is important to not let this go away [as] we don’t want to be another statistic. Before I used to say Parkland, Florida and nobody knew where that was. Now when I say it this [event] is going to be the first thing that comes to people’s minds. That’s a really upsetting thing to think about. That that’s what my town is going to be known for. The more I think about that, I want to be known for this amazing change, not somewhere that suffered from a tragedy.”


WJ has also almost 3,000 students. What do you recommend in terms of advocating and protection here?

“I think that awareness is absolutely the most important thing. It’s really important to understand that there are a lot of views, and there are a lot of people who you will disagree with. We had a kid who came on our Tallahassee trip who was pro-gun after all this. It’s really hard to understand how somebody can still agree with that. He was pro-arming the teachers. We had a meeting with [Florida Governor] Rick Scott and he advocated for [armed teachers]. We all stood up against him on it, but it’s all about the manner in which you do it. That’s something that we’ve really been stressing in our movement. Some of the faces haven’t really been adhering to this as much because there are a lot of really strong emotions [being felt], but it’s all about composure. If you really want to create change, you have to be respectful in understanding the opposing views that people have, because in life you’re always going to have people that disagree with you. If you stand up, yell, argue and don’t even consider what they have to say then its really much harder for them to listen to you and have the consideration that you would hope that they would have. Part of it is making sure that you are aware and staying updated with new information. I know after [meeting with Florida politicians], that I have a better understanding of how the government works.”


Tell me about the march that you are organizing. What do you hope  to accomplish?

“I think it’s going to be really awesome and I’m so excited for it. I’ve been working with the city commissioner’s daughter since [February 19]. I called her, spoke with her for the first time and we immediately started working. I made a Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. On Twitter I’ve been using the hashtags that are trending to get more people to find the page, which has helped a lot too. I had [campaign faces] Cameron Kasky, Sarah Chadwick and Jackie Corin mention it. It’s been really helping to gain awareness of the page and the march in general. If I tweet something about the march, it gets hundreds of likes in minutes. So far, what we’re really trying to do is a rally and a march in one. We’re trying to [hold] a march that starts at the park and goes by the school. My original hope had been to have the rally at the school, but it’s not big enough for the turnout that we’re expecting. I think that our march is going to be the sole march for South Florida [and there’s] going to be a lot of people. We definitely want to incorporate the school because that is of the utmost importance.”


Caseys Social Media accounts for the March for our Lives Parkland Event: