To the editor of The Conway Daily Sun, the adults of the Mount Washington Valley, and anyone who may find this information valuable:

The students of Kennett High School, who are currently working to make changes and stand up for themselves and others, are not misguided pawns, nor are they “puppets” being led by an invisible hand. Although it is likely true that a few of the participants of the walkout on March 14 tagged along for no reason other than to get out of class, the passion and knowledge among the majority was extremely evident.

Preceding last Wednesday’s walkout, students attended meetings to thoughtfully discuss solutions for school violence, and violence in general, as well as to form a unified message. At one of the student meetings leading up to the walkout, the owner of a firearm shop in North Conway spoke and answered questions about guns, the legal process of purchasing a firearm, and current legislation relating to the issue in general. Everyone present was attentive and clearly eager to learn.

During the walkout, as we walked around our school among flurries of snow and stood in the cold, students were respectful, articulate and knowledgeable. Many held pre-made signs, and several delivered speeches. Directly following the walkout, we returned inside, where hundreds of students added their signatures to petitions and letters that will be sent to our representatives.

I have watched my classmates take more action to make real change happen than nearly any other group of people I have personally known. A group dubbed “Eagles for Action” is being formed by students within Kennett, and members will continue to fight for change. Two girls in my senior class traveled to the New Hampshire State House on the afternoon of the walkout and met with Gov. Chris Sununu to discuss gun reform and strategies for increasing school safety. Many students have registered or are about to register to vote, and will be voting in November. At least one student is currently working for a political campaign. Another periodically travels to Washington, D.C., to meet with congresspeople and lobby for change. Countless peers write letters, make calls and sign petitions every day. And I have yet to converse with a student at Kennett High School that is afraid or unwilling to argue for what they believe in, whatever that may be.

No matter what your opinion of the walkout’s message is, I ask you: Please do not underestimate us because of our age. Please recognize what we are capable of doing and understanding. I am incredibly proud of my classmates and of my generation. 

Next year, the students of the Class of 2018 will be found all over the country and the planet. We will be studying, working, conducting research, taking on positions of leadership, voting, learning and changing the world.

River Hayes


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