A letter from a student

Students at the Sat., March 24, March for Our Lives in New York City. Ten days earlier, students across the country held a walkout to demand safe schools free of the threat of deadly gun violence. Photo by Tequila Minsky

BY BRIANA BARTENIEFF | On March 14, I had a physics quiz

On March 14, Stephen Hawking died

On March 14, thousands of kids and I marched at 10 a.m. nationwide for those who could not be out here because of gun violence

I will never forget yelling about how the whole situation was BS

Asking the N.R.A. how many kids had to die today for them to do something





With a strong crowd of 300 in temperatures in the mid-30s

Not being able to feel my joints in the thin tights I was wearing

My throat being sore after screaming for the past 17 minutes

And yet, I’d do it all again

I wish I was not here doing this march because I should not have to be here

I should not be witnessing “School Shooting” in big white block letters flashing on my television every few months

I may not have been in Florida, Connecticut or Colorado

But the victims are my age

They are going through the same problems as every teenager does

It is hard enough not being taken seriously about anything because you are a teenager

However, it is more insulting when your friends and family have been killed in front of your eyes, and you’re still not taken seriously because of your age

People say, “Do you really think that these kids would be out here if they were not directly involved in the school shooting?”

It doesn’t matter what would happen

You best believe that if I witnessed what they have

I would never be able to live in a moment of silence again

I would still use my voice and my writing

to make purpose out of this sad occasion

Even though big men, in big suits tell me it’s no use

I could write till my fingers bleed

I could scream till my voice gives out

And nothing could be done

Politicians will look us in the eye

With one hand on the Bible

And the other on their heart

Promising change for the better

If you look closer, their heart is racing like a Ferrari engine

Their palms are sweaty

Pupils dilated

The white in their eyes become foggy

All because the past has been so good to them

They are scared to be at the bottom of the food chain

At any moment they could lose it all without their even knowing

In the end

The main message is this

I do not want to die

I do not want to be killed by a military-style weapon in a place that is claimed to be safe

I do not want my parents to come home to a newly emptied bedroom

I do not want my name on the television screen under those in memoriam

And last,

I do not want to be another reason for a march

Some argue that they should have the right to own a gun to kill an animal as a hobby

We are not your hobby

We are your young

We are the future

You should be investing in us

Yet you are killing us

You are killing us because we are less important than being able to shoot a wild boar

We are not animals

We are your young

As well as the mothers and fathers of your grandchildren

I know this fight will be long

I am willing to write every letter

Walk every march

Make countless signs

So that my children will only learn about school shootings in their history books

It is a hard fight worth fighting

No matter how many people there are

No matter how many arguments there will be

Something will be done

And it will be remarkable

Something will be done and our future generation will thank us for it

That is the greatest purpose of all

To fight for those who have lost their voice, and those who do not have it yet

To fight for them is the greatest fight that will ever be


Bartenieff, 16, is a student at Notre Dame High School on W. 13th St. in the West Village

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