26 pebbles: a seemingly insignificant number of small rocks. An ostensibly meaningless collection of pebbles washed ashore. However, one may come to find that there is more than meets the eye as a simple metaphor holds unimaginable power. “26 Pebbles” is a play that will be performed by the CHS Theatre in partnership with the Claremont Faculty Association on Nov. 1 and 2, and is not a play to be taken lightly, nor is it a play performed solely for the sake of theatrics. Along with the making of this collaborative play, CHS students are taking action against gun violence in schools, all with a common goal to start difficult conversations of real-world issues in schools.
On Dec. 14, 2012, 26 innocent lives were taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. On this day, 20 children, between kindergarten and fourth grade, and six adults were fatally shot, thus leaving the small town in a state of trauma and devastation. This mass shooting, known as the “Sandy Hook Shooting,” was the beginning of an epidemic of gun violence and mass shootings in the US. There have been 602 deaths due to mass shootings in 2019 alone. This begs the essential question: what are schools doing to talk to kids about the issue?
Talking about current societal stigmas, spreading the word, and educating oneself are crucial elements in the fight against prevalent issues such as gun violence or suicide, especially when it comes to the actions high schoolers can take. As a whole, CHS is taking action against gun violence, hence the performance of “26 Pebbles” in upcoming months. The 26 pebbles in the play represent the 26 innocent lives lost at the hands of a gun that day at Sandy Hook Elementary. The play as a whole represents the idea that pebbles, when thrown into a pond, create ripples and vibrations that are felt far beyond the initial splash.
The CHS production of “26 Pebbles” is a multi-generational collaboration held between the CHS Theatre program and the Claremont Faculty Association. This means that both adults of the Claremont community, as well as CHS students, will be working to produce this play. The project started three years ago when the Claremont Faculty Association wanted to create a collaborative enterprise devoted to spreading awareness towards genuine societal issues, as well as raising money for charities fighting for the cause.
“We wanted to shift away from traditional theater and create a project linked to social justice,” David Chamberlain, CHS English teacher, speech and debate coach, and president of the Claremont Faculty Association, said.
Last year, CHS used this platform to shed a light on suicide prevention and depression, performing a dramatic reading of the play “Right Before I Go.” This play panned out to be very impactful to many who attended the show as it managed to discuss a heavy topic most schools do not talk about enough in a rather tasteful manner. The same goes for “26 Pebbles”; this play will go in depth in terms of the trauma and utter loss Newtown faced that day, as well as start a raw discussion about mass shootings in schools. Furthermore, all proceeds from the play that do not go directly into the production of the play will be donated to charities that fight against gun violence and spread awareness surrounding the subject.
CHS’ fight against gun violence, however, does not solely consist of the production of “26 Pebbles.” This year, CHS junior Maya Garcia has majorly impacted the community, joining forces with Webb student Lily Miller to start a youth-activism group and CHS club, centered around preventing gun violence and educating Claremont’s community of voters on how to stop gun violence. This youth-activism group, “Disarm Hate,” has already taken action against gun violence in schools. From protests on the corner of Indian Hill and Foothill to voter registration and education, Disarm Hate is going strong as more and more CHS and Webb students join in.
“Youth activism is especially important right now,” Garcia said. “For the government to see the next generation [who will be] voting, fighting passionately against a certain issue can make all the difference. Gun violence is something that now, more than ever, is directly affecting youth as mass shootings are taking place in schools.”
After discussing CHS’ production of “26 Pebbles” with Garica, she expressed the genuine power she feels this play has, in that the play starts a real-world discussion about a real-world issue in schools.
“Disarm Hate could not relate more to this play,” Garcia said. “Trying to halt this devastating epidemic of gun violence in our country is crucial.”
Whether it be “26 Pebbles,” or Disarm Hate, CHS students are speaking out against gun violence.
26 pebbles: a representation of those lost in the Sandy Hook shooting. A play that reminds us never to forget the innocent lives slaughtered on December 14th, 2012. A play teaching us to better understand trauma, and to better appreciate the value in simply living.