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Stand Up CHS, Teacher David Chamberlain’s Speech on School Shootings

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Stand Up CHS, Teacher David Chamberlain’s Speech on School Shootings

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On Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, six days after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, FL, CHS English teacher David Chamberlain conducted and organized a meeting during lunch for CHS staff and students in Room 105 in the wake of the recent tragedy. Rather than lamenting the fallen victims and the current state of American gun laws, the meeting had an optimistic tone with its theme of hope facilitating every topic that was addressed.

Chamberlain first asked those in attendance to quietly write down their own personal message of hope on a note card with a broad audience in mind, as the message could have been written for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students, the community of Parkland, FL, CHS, the Claremont City Council, or even Congress itself. While every message was written in private, they all shared the idea that as long as hope is alive in dark times, good will endure and change will come.

Afterwards, Chamberlain then pointed to an essential question that he had written on the board: “How can we each develop our message, find our voice, and join the students of Parkland in demanding Congress to act? How can we stand up and not stand by?” He then followed with his own personal commentary on not just what occurred in Parkland but mass shootings in general, especially how the overall public reacts to the matter.

“It is a polarized rhetoric that comes after each mass shooting that paralyzes everyone across the nation,” Chamberlain said. “Adults have spectacularly failed children in this area.”

Chamberlain also added that despite the fact that the survivors have the most eloquent voices, Congress will not rest to outweigh them. However, the shooting in Parkland has been followed by a reaction that no other mass shooting has been followed by before. Unlike Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Orlando, and Las Vegas, the surviving Parkland students have bravely stood up in the midst of the carnage and horror that they were forced to witness. Avenging their fallen peers whose voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, seniors Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg are leading a movement that has transcended beyond the borders of their city.

A sort of domino effect is now presently occurring in hundreds of high schools across the span of the entire nation. Students are determinedly utilizing the strongest momentum imaginable to advocate action and compel Congress to significantly revise national gun laws and regulations. This hopeful vein has even swept itself to CHS in the form of the National School Walkout. Taking place on Mar. 14 from 10 a.m. to 10:17 a.m., CHS students will have the opportunity to walk out of their third period classes and peacefully assemble in Central Quad to protest the current validity of the Second Amendment and to honor the 17 slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas students. The main mission of this walkout however is to request change. Change that will stop the act of a mentally deranged lunatic with a weapon of war wiping out innocent lives while others stand by in fear.

Chamberlain’s ultimate goal is to present CHS’s bold message of hope to local congresswoman Judy Chu, who will hopefully relay it to Congress, solidifying and strengthening the spirit that originated in Parkland. Chamberlain, self-identifying as a “union guy,” believes that this will be no easy task, but with dedication, determination, and perseverance, it can be done.

“I don’t have any idea how to build a movement, folks,” Chamberlain said on an ambivalent note. “But I hope we can. Craft your message, find your voice, find a way to activate your voice.”

Below is Chamberlain’s full speech.

Good Evening Dr. Elsasser, President Llanusa and Members of the Board:

We stood by and it happened again, this time on a clear and sunny Valentine’s Day, with love and expectation in the air.  We stood by on a day when our young people should be experiencing the anxious butterflies of romantic revelations, but instead were subjected to the anxiety of another school shooting; the 18th in this young 6-weeks old 2018.   We stood by and another 17 of our sweet and precious children were slaughtered, their blossoming potential and optimistic futures cut short by a hail of AR 15 assault rifle bullets.   It can’t be business as usual, an average of three school shootings per week. it can’t be!  How did we get here?  How did this become normalized?

I don’t necessarily know the answer.  But I do know that any possible solution will be arrived at through discourse, compromise and consensus.  Sadly, our Leaders and our fellow citizens are so politically polarized that we cannot even begin a conversation. Discourse is impossible.  It’s “take the guns away” on the left and “the 2nd amendment is absolute” on the right;  but where is the sensible middle?  Surely we can all agree that our children at school should not be at such risk.  So, how can we navigate the polarizing rhetoric and instead focus on common-sense policy?  If we all agree, why can’t we all agree?  Its time to stand up and not to stand by.

After every one of these horrifying shootings there is the grave outpouring of grief, there is the prodigious offering of prayer, there is the shocked soul-searching  and there is the requisite collective reflection.  Then, the moment simply seems to pass with no resulting action.  We fail to act!  Sadly, within a short period of time, the cycle begins again.  The routine is shockingly all too familiar, tragically all too frequent, depressingly all too ordinary.

Have we become numb?  Is it a collective case of PTSD?  Is it the raw political muscle of the NRA?  Is it a gratuitous media hype that shifts our attention to the next news cycle?  Whatever the cause of our national paralysis in response to school shootings; I say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!  How many dead children is too many?  We cannot let the moment pass.  We can’t stand by and let it happen again.  It is our duty as citizens and teachers and parents to shake off the malaise of our apathy, to cast off the yoke of our cynicism, to tear off the veil of our willful ignorance.

I know I am preaching to the choir, I know your sympathies lie with me.  But, I take advantage of this platform and I ask each and every one of you to seize the moment, don’t let it pass. Take advantage of your platform.  Add your voice to the discourse and demand action. STAND UP, do not stand by.

With A Heavy Heart,
Dave Chamberlain
CFA President


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Stand Up CHS, Teacher David Chamberlain’s Speech on School Shootings