A year after Parkland shooting, teens help remember other teens

Shalhevet’s Jacob Lefkowitz-Brooks is among high schoolers profiling victims of gun violence in year since massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.



A year after Parkland shooting, teens help remember other teens by Jacob Joseph Lefkowitz Brooks

On Feb. 14 last year, 14 high school students and three school staff lost their lives in a mass shooting in Parkland, Fla. Exactly a year later, almost 1,200 more children and teenagers have died in gun violence, according to The Trace, which published obituaries in honor of all these other victims.

The Trace started a project called “Since Parkland,” where student journalists wrote 100-word obituaries for children victims of gun violence. Profiles are deliberately short to represent the short lives these children lived.

All 1,200 obituaries were published this week on The Trace website, and also in the Miami Herald, in honor of the Parkland anniversary.

Junior Jacob Lefkowitz, who is also Community Editor for The Boiling Point, wrote one obituary for this project. He will be paid $25 for this work.

Jacob wrote about Jennifer Trejo-Gomez, a nine-year-old who was killed last July 17 when a stray bullet went through a wall in her bedroom. She is survived by her brother and sister.

Before he could write the obituary, Jacob had to choose the person he would write about. He picked Jennifer’s name from a list of victims sent by The Trace and chose her, he said, because “she was so young.”

“The third-grader at Buckshutem Road School wanted to be a teacher when she grew up,” Jacob wrote. “She had a piggy bank right by her bed with $60 in it  that she was planning to save for college.

Jacob learned about the project when Trace Senior Project Editor Beatrice Motamedi presented it to Boiling Point staff at a lunch meeting last October.

“I thought it was really different having to write about someone who I’ve never met or interacted with,” said Jacob. “Writing a 100-word story forced me to find all the pertinent details about their life and condense them into something meaningful.”

He said he hopes to do more work with the group.

“I think the cause of preventing gun violence is paramount for this country, and I would love to play a role in getting people to understand the severity of this issue,” he said.

Alumna Hannah Jannol ‘18,  who was last year’s Editor-in-Chief of the Boiling Point, was edited more than 20 of the obituaries for the project last summer.  She said it opened her eyes to the range of gun violence.

“Even from the ones that I edited and looked at, there are children who died because someone was cleaning a gun, or touching it in some non-violent way but they accidentally fired it, and someone died because of that.” Hannah said.

The Boiling Point staff was invited to become involved because of its connection with Global Student Square (GSS), which is run by Ms. Motamedi and which publishes high school news stories from countries around the world, including Japan, Saudi Arabia, China, South Korea, England and the United States. Shalhevet is one of its contributing schools.

“Since Parkland” was profiled in today’s New York Times.

“This week they launched ‘Since Parkland,’ a website compiling profiles of every one of the victims,” the Times wrote. “To tell their stories, The Trace turned to those who could relate most closely to the victims: other young people.”

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