230 fields The orange flag and 27 thought-provoking signs stand near the busy intersection of Ogontz and Olney Avenues, testifying to the sadness, anger and fear of students.
“A student is worth more than any gun,” a rider on a SEPTA bus might read. “This should be a school district, not a war zone,” motorists might see.each symbol represents each School shootings across the U.S. so far in 2022; every flag represents every mass shooting in the country this year.
Rising public art installation On the lawn of Central High School on Friday, English teacher Kristen Peeples’ 10th and 11th graders used to express their feelings about the shooting at the Uvald, Texas school last week. 19 children and two teachers were killed in March.
It’s hard to get students’ attention in the last few weeks of a long school year; Peeples’ original plan was for students to make a poster project about a movie they were watching. But Uwald changed that—students decided they had something to say, even if grades weren’t involved. (Peeples was not required to participate, but most of her 130 students did.)
Lucas O’Donnell, a 16-year-old student, said: “Every week there’s a school shooting and you forget these are real people and real communities are being destroyed. It’s just a matter of time before we go. “
Gabrielle Quiñones says gun violence seeps into everyday life in a shocking way: If you put down your phone to avoid the news, you turn on the TV and you’ll find you’re there.
“We need programs like this that make us passionate about the situation — because it’s easy to become insensitive to school shootings,” Quiniones, 16, said.
Students spent days creating posters with QR codes that provide information about school shootings. They also discussed solutions, as well as differences between how white shooters are portrayed and treated compared to black and Latino shooters.
The project sparked a discussion about the safety of students in Central Philadelphia.
Peter Frankunas, 16, said: “Even though we have active fire training, we have metal detectors, we still don’t feel safe in school. Just because we have training for what can happen. – why not?” Didn’t we stop it before it happened? “
Nadella White says A fact that plays on her over and over head.
“It’s easier to buy a gun than to buy baby formula,” said White, 16. “It’s easier for me to buy a gun than to feed a baby, and it drives me crazy.”
Jose Hernandez says he gets sick when he thinks about the politics surrounding guns.
“It’s disgusting, frankly, that these politicians who are supposed to represent us don’t listen to us,” said Hernandez, 15. We want change. They should vote for change. “
Some students were conflicted about participating in the project: should they contribute to the funeral fund for Uvalde victims? Are the signs enough?
Ultimately, Peeples and her students decided “it wasn’t a solution and it wasn’t an intention,” she said. “We can address our grief and inform the public through art.”
Peeples said it was a coincidence that the project was installed on National Gun Violence Awareness Day on Friday. But it feels right.
“This is a crisis,” she said.