Memorial making its rounds through the county outlines those killed in school shootings
As David Williams gazed at the display of T-shirts blowing in the breeze at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, he shook his head and said, “These could be my classmates. These T-shirts could fit me.”
Each of the 258 T-shirts hanging along a fence at the high school depicts one young life that had been cut down so far this year due to gun violence in schools throughout the country.
Williams, a 17-year-old high-school senior, said, “It’s important to demonstrate a point like this. It’s definitely attracting attention.”
The T-shirt exhibit has been making the rounds at the many County high schools and already visited Winston Churchill High School in Potomac and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
The display debuted at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School.
MoCo Students for Gun Control created the graphic portrayals. That student group formed a week after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Since the T-shirts were first hung one month ago, the students had to add more following the murder of eight students at Santa Fe High School in Texas.
While all the T-shirts had been white, the newest ones are in orange. Each is sparsely decorated in black marker and bears the name and age of each victim. Some T-shirts merely are adorned with the words “unidentified male” or "age unknown."
“I like that our school is sending a message and not ignoring” what is happening, said Leah Leifer, a ninth grader at Richard Montgomery.
Her classmate, Valeria Quispe, scanned the display and declared, “It makes me sad.”
Added ninth grader James Pagara, “I think it’s great. It spreads awareness.”
State Senator Cheryl Kagan, who represents District 17, which covers Rockville and Gaithersburg, videotaped herself as she slowly walked the length of the display.
Kagan called the deaths of the young people “senseless murder” in her video, which she posted on her Facebook page.
These are students “who will never wear their school colors, who won’t go to the prom, who won’t walk across the stage at their high-school graduation' who won’t have a career or a family or an opportunity to travel, celebrate joyous times, struggle through tough times,” she said as her camera zoomed in on the shirts.
MoCo Students for Gun Control set up a GoFundMe account to cover the costs of the project. The goal was to raise $1,000, but the students surpassed their goal by more than $500.
Any money they raised that wasn’t used will go to other projects aimed at ending gun violence in schools, the group said on the GoFundMe page.
While the students said the T-shirt project was important, “Our end goal, of course, is to pressure legislators into passing the necessary bills to reduce and eventually eliminate the risk of school shootings. Everyone at B-CC is extremely passionate about this issue,” they wrote on the GoFundMe page.