Catherine Sawoski, Tiverton Resident

President, High School Democrats, RI

Every day at my school, my friends and I eat lunch in the lockers — away from the main cafeteria area, a collection of groups find quieter, more secluded spots around campus to reset before afternoon classes.

I’ve been there almost every day for years, talking and relaxing with my favorite people in the world, and yet a few weeks ago as I sat down the very first thought that entered my head was a kind of resigned fear. Maybe if a shooter was on campus, I mused, we would be away from the main target and have a greater chance of survival.

These are the realities that my classmates are living with, that we have to consider every time we are buzzed past security locks and hear the droning bells of the stay-in-place drills.

When I testified about this at the statehouse earlier this year, I got the opportunity to tell the members of the House Judiciary Committee about what it’s like to grow up in this changed culture, but I know that all of our local legislators have heard the same thing countless times before from other teen activists when gun safety bills have been proposed in the past.

However, I also know that as long as there are more students growing up in a fearful world that they refuse to accept as normal, I know that we won’t stop hearing about these experiences, and I can hope that someday soon they’ll be listened to. The youth are saying that we support a ban on concealed carry weapons in our schools, and when a generation speaks, legislators should listen.