A West Milford student reflects on the Parkland shooting

Jul 08 2018 | 07:06 AM

By Kalleen Rose Ozanic
West Milford High School
As an adolescent, I always find myself at odds with my environment and surroundings.
I am inundated by the media and the constant flux and flow of foreign topics and changes in my world.
In this way, I am inexperienced in naive. While more mature adults or those well-versed in the ways of the world may see the nuances of complex topics, I think teenagers offer a more simple view, that, in many ways, offers more straightforward solutions and viewpoints that can move past complexities an see the big picture.
On February 14, 2018, as 3:18 p.m., Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was attacked by an active shooter, and former student, Nikolas Cruz.
The shooting lasted minutes, but the crucible that followed nationally has lasted for months.
Debates over gun control, mental health awareness and treatment have circulated since that fateful winter day, chronicling the voices of advocates in our nation’s history.
A teenager in a changing worldBut, as a teenager in this changing world, what I see as most poignant is the language and increased discourse of adolescent in the public sphere.
Nothing can diminish the tragic mark the Parkland shooting has left on our society, but there is a bright future in the voices of the young and enduring.
Whether they advocate for gun control or support the National Rifle Association, which many would view as the two poles on the spectrum of the second amendment, adolescents advocating for themselves and using their voices to make a change in society is what will leave a lasting impact.
Our society has always been affected by speech and political discourse, but our modern era displays one of the first times in the new century youth have been at the forefront of a movement.
Students like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez exercise their free speech, which is a decisive and powerful tool, and the most effective means of affecting change.
The survivors of the Parkland shooting show me, and if I may, show many other citizens of our nation and of our world, that while the nature of reform is fluid, the means attaining reform is concrete; language is a barrier and building block alike, tasked with the growth and vision of society’s most influential members.
The Parkland shooting has not just tipped the scales of my belief, but also shown me that the only way to affect change and exact improvement in my society is to use my voice.
In the eyes of the youngestThe world has seen that the youngest can often be the wisest, though emboldened by youth. I see the Parkland shooting as an atrocity of the highest degree.
Crucial to our history, this tragedy offers an opportunity for my generation to determine its future and not stand idly while others determine our fate, regardless of political affiliation.
Adolescents have been promoted to a state of increased political discourse and awareness, indelibly altering the role of teens in society.
We, as a people, as a community, and as a nation, must never forget those lost in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
We must never cower in the labels of beliefs and policies, but rather endear the opportunities of our language to support change.
The bounds of my voice are unlimited, dampened not my the nature of my speech, but amplified by the intensity of my desires for my world, and my future.
Kalleen Rose Ozanic is a journalism student at West Milford High School.