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Northfield High School students demand change outside Colorado Capitol day after school lockdown

Northfield High School students demand change outside Colorado Capitol day after school lockdown
Posted at 7:32 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 21:32:33-04

DENVER — A flag flying at half staff at the State Capitol Friday honored the students and teachers who lost their lives in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Below that temporary flag of mourning, Northfield High School students spent their first day of summer break on the steps of the State Capitol demonstrating for more legislation that would keep them safe at school.

These were the same students who were frantically hiding under their desks just a day before after reports of a student with a gun on campus resulted in dozens of officers with tactical gear and assault rifles swarming their school.

There is an uneasy familiarity with protests like this, considering that almost every student at the demonstration has heard their school lockdown announcement enough times to memorize it.

"Attention teachers, students and staff. This is Denver Schools Department of Safety. Your building has been placed on lockdown," recalls Alee Reed, a student at Northfield High.

"You're building has been placed on a lockdown. Please go into the classroom and shut off the lights and don't be seen." student Jude Keener-Ruscha said, completing the announcement.

This is their generation — one that is now as familiar with tragedy as their ABCs.

"I've been doing this since kindergarten, since I was 4 years old," said student Lauren Fisher.

Her generation was raised in an era of mass shootings.

"In kindergarten, which was 2012 for me, we were instructed to make bracelets for children who had lost friends in an incident," Alee Reed said.

At the time, Reed didn't understand the purpose of making bracelets for those who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook mass shooting.

"In middle school, we had the walkout honoring those who had died to a school shooter in Parkland, Florida," she continued.

On Thursday, Reed's school was placed on lockdown following reports of a student with a gun on campus, which turned out to be a paintball gun.

"There was a flood of kids running inside the doors, like panicking," Fisher said.

Many students like Keener-Ruscha believed their was an active shooter on campus at the time.

"I went over and I leaned on [my friend] and I was like, "If there's a shooter that walks in, we're supposed to fight them. We're supposed to throw stuff at them,"" he said.

The messages students send to their parents during these incidents are all too familiar.

"I instantly texted my dad and said, "Hey, I love you," because I didn't know if that would be like the end of my life," Fisher said.

Reed also texted her parents.

"I texted them like, "This is hopefully a drill. I love you. I hope to see you,"" she said.

Finally, the all too familiar demand from those students still too young to vote, but fully aware of the stakes.

"I hide under a desk, close my eyes, and don't talk," Fisher said. "If you can vote, if you have some sort of power in this country, if you are over 18, you can make a difference."

Fisher and the other students at Friday's demonstration hope this time their voices are heard.