4 Ways the #NeverAgain Students Create Impact

This blog was originally published on Forbes as 4 Ways The #NeverAgain Students Create Impact on Saturday, March 3, 2018.

Eighteen-year-old Emma Gonzalez, a senior at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, has become a media superstar in the two weeks since the tragic shooting at her school: her electrifying speech has had nearly 2.5 million views on YouTube, her Twitter account has over a million followers (more than her nemesis, the NRA), and Harper’s Bazaar published her article on gun control.

Emma, along with her fellow students Ryan Deitsch, Ryan Schacter, Cameron Kasky, Michelle Lapido, Chris Grady, and Annabel Quinn Claprood also participated in a nationally televised town hall on CNN in which all of them more than held their own in exchanges with Florida’s two US senators, Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson, their Congressman, Democrat Ted Deutch, and Dana Loesch, the national spokesperson for the NRA.

In an excellent article in Slate, Dahlia Lithwick reports that the students’ superior communication skills are the direct result of an especially rich array of extracurricular programs. She writes that the students are “painstakingly taught about drama, media, free speech, political activism, and forensics.” By implanting and developing these programs early, the students learn skills that are essential—and all too often woefully lacking—in everyone’s adult life. Four of those programs are noteworthy:

  1. Drama. The school’s theater program provides the requisite training in voice production and body movement which develops stage presence, but most of all, it provides exposure to audiences which helps overcome stage fright, so common among self-conscious teenagers.
  2. Television. WMSD-TV, the broadcast journalism program, provides experience in speaking in media-savvy sound bites.
  3. Journalism. The award-winning school newspaper, Eagle Eye, provides experience in writing and expression.
  4. Forensics. Broward County has a broad debate program encompassing 120 schools and 12,000 students who learn “the value of logic, reasoning, and tolerance of others’ opinions…conduct research, write cases, debate, and work as part of a team.”

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas students are in the forefront of the burgeoning #NeverAgain movement and are planning a “March for Our Lives” in Washington on March 24. They expect a half a million people to join them and have already raised $2 million in donations from Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and George and Amal Clooney to support their cause.

No doubt we will see more electrifying speeches.

This blog was originally published on Forbes as 4 Ways The #NeverAgain Students Create Impact on Saturday, March 3, 2018.