Cooperative school board-on gun violence


Hannah Riseman

Mary Martin addresses the school board about the recent increase of gun violence in schools. The Hollis-Brookline Cooperative School Board meeting took place on Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the HBMS Library. “The gun issue is multifaceted, so there are many problems and solutions. There’s not one answer,” said Martin.

Hannah Riseman, Op-Ed Co-Editor

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, at the HBMS Library, the Hollis Brookline Cooperative School Board held a much-anticipated meeting, the main topic of discussion being the recent school shooting in Florida and its impact on Hollis-Brookline schools.

The meeting, which began at 6:00 pm, opened by mentioning the Florida tragedy. In wake of the event and the movement surrounding it, several parents and students sat in the audience to see what the school board had to say on the subject. Superintendent Andrew Corey reviewed the safety precautions already in place in the Hollis-Brookline school system, which include lockdown drills, professional development, infrastructure updates, conducted simulations, COPSYNC (a technology which sends a signal to the four closest police agencies), and checking with the school nurse and/or psychologist for regular updates about students’ mental health. Additionally, he mentioned that the New Hampshire SWAT team has trained at the middle and high school.

With those measures in mind, the public input became the highlight of the meeting. Several parents and community members took to the podium to express their opinions on guns and school shootings. Two of these contributors stood up to show their support for the students in Florida and the walkout that students at HBHS organized for this past Wednesday.

Sophomore student body vice president, Mary Martin, gave a short speech during the public input session, outlining the need for a change of policy where gun violence is concerned. She stressed the importance of solidarity events, educational assemblies, and a student position on the safety board. “The purpose of my statement was to convey the concerns and ideas the student body had in regards to gun violence. I was able to introduce some ideas we had been discussing to take action in our community. There were many misconceptions about our intentions [pertaining to the walkout],” Martin later said.

Several other students who attended the event felt similarly to Martin. Among these students were Victoria Bruzik ‘20 and Genevieve Oetjens ‘20, both who are strong advocates for a change in policy pertaining to gun violence in schools. “I attended the school board meeting today to see what the community and school board had to say about the recent tragedy in Florida and what we can do as a community and school as a whole to prevent that from happening here.” Bruzik said. “They gave hope to those of us who were here who did not know what the process was and so I think that becomes positive.”

Oetjens made a brief statement to the school board as well, emphasizing that solidarity events are not a waste of time and that she stands strongly with the idea of a walkout. “I do support having the walkout. I know that it will not necessarily change anything, but I think it is a good start to a big problem in America” Oetjens said.

Student Body President Patrick Bloniasz ‘18 also provided some insight into the idea of a walkout and how the school was handling such a controversial proposal. “[The] walkout is giving students an opportunity to speak without speaking directly,” said Bloniasz. He specified that HBHS worked to plan a different form of walkout for March 14. The walkout successfully, and peacefully,  took place this past Wednesday at 10 am.

A vocal Hollis citizen was the last speaker of the public input on gun violence, and presented several new ideas. He came to the meeting after talking with the Hollis Chief of Police about different tactics to increase school safety. He advocates for adding a sub-station into the high school so that there would be several officers present at the school at all times. He also suggested that the board consider having the officers spend their “downtime” at a school just in case of emergency.

The citizen cited the success of a sub-station in Nashua next to Nashua South High School as another reason that HB should consider this move. At the start of his speech, he mentioned how the Florida shooting woke him up as a father of young kids to the dangers of children going to school, which has inspired him to help improve the safety of schools.

He is not the only one who realized the dangers of even going to school. Bruzik, Oetjens, and Martin all admitted to feeling unsafe at school, no matter how many precautions were in place.  “[Gun violence in schools], honestly, as a student, makes me nervous. I know that guns will never be completely gone from our society, but I hope we can strengthen our laws to prevent tragedies that have been happening,” said Oetjens.

To watch the full Cooperative School Board meeting, go to the COOP and Hollis Youtube Channel to view the meeting.