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The Eighth Grade Supports Gun Control in Washington DC

Monday, April 23, 2018

Our eighth grade students hit the ground running after spring break: on the very first day after school resumed, they took an early-morning flight across the country on the annual field trip to Washington DC.

After October 2017’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, our eighth graders chose gun control as their service project for this year. They contacted politicians, created a newsletter, and wrote informational pamphlets about the nationwide epidemic of violence. The centerpiece of their project was a petition calling for a ban on assault rifles, enforcement of universal background checks, and the elimination of gun show loopholes. After circulating the petition around the city, our students gathered almost 3,000 signatures.

February’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School deepened the students’ desire to prevent gun violence, and they eagerly participated in the National School Walkout the following month. Finally, with their trip to Washington DC, they had the opportunity to make their voices heard on a national stage. They visited the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who has partnered with CDS in the past, to formally present the petition. They also met with Senator Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut), a leading advocate of gun control, who told them what Congress is currently doing to address the issue.

The students also visited the Lincoln Memorial, African American History Museum, Ford’s Theatre, and the Smithsonian, and they even went on a tour of the Capitol where they looked in on a session of Congress. However, the greatest highlight was their meetings with Rep. Pelosi and Sen. Murphy. “They were very excited to have this opportunity to share their experiences and speak to power,” said eighth grade humanities teacher Terry Ashkinos. We believe that passionate citizens change the world, and we are proud to play a part in raising the next generation of activists.

A video of our students’ meeting with Rep. Pelosi is available here.