Scores of white T-shirts labeled with the names of teenage victims of gun violence – first hung last month around the perimeter of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School—on Monday lined the fence around Winston Churchill High School in Potomac.
The display has grown by 59 shirts for its second appearance.
“It was hard to write the names,” Elizabeth Kaprielian, a Churchill sophomore who helped with the display, said Monday.
MoCo Students for Gun Control, a group that banded together in the wake of the Parkland high school shooting in February, hopes to bring the T-shirt display to each high school in Montgomery County. Churchill junior Dani Miller and a group of classmates spent about 90 minutes hanging the shirts along Gainsborough Road early Monday morning, nearly running out of space on the school’s fence.
“This isn’t just a small problem. This is an epidemic in our country,” Miller said. “We covered the entire fence with no room left.”
Credit: Bethany Rodgers
Each of the 259 shirts carries the name and age of a teen who has died this year because of gun violence. Miller said she updated the display with names of the teens shot since students hung the shirts outside B-CC on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
Then, on Friday, Miller and her classmates had to change the display again to commemorate the eight teens who died in the shooting at Santa Fe High School.
“It was not even a coincidence that the Santa Fe shooting happened the Friday before we were going to do it, because these happen so frequently that something was bound to happen,” Miller said.
Miller and seven other local teens headed down to Washington, D.C., on Friday afternoon to protest outside House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office. While Miller filmed, the teens lay down on the hallway floor to convey their frustration with congressional inaction on gun control, she said.
Four of the students—two of them from Montgomery County Public Schools—were arrested and charged with crowding and obstructing, according to HuffPost.
The Montgomery County teens, part of a national groundswell of youth calling for change, are struggling against feelings of hopelessness in the wake of Friday’s shooting, Miller said. So many had said the Parkland killing needed to be the last mass school shooting, but just a few months later, they were watching news coverage about yet another tragedy.
“Sometimes, it feels like all our work is for nothing, because it keeps happening again and again,” she said. “But we also need to sit down and realize that change doesn’t happen with a snap of our fingers. It’s discouraging, but just because it’s not happening right away doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen.”
Miller said the T-shirt display will remain at Churchill until Wednesday and will move next to Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville.
The students used orange T-shirts to memorialize the teens who died in Friday’s shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas. Credit: Bethany Rodgers.
Bethany Rodgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.