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At One N.H. High School, Students Find Their Own Way To Remember Victims Of Gun Violence

Jason Moon for NHPR

Students from across New Hampshire walked out of their schools -- and some gathered at the State House -- to call for stricter gun control on Friday.

But as NHPR’s Jason Moon reports, at a Catholic high school in Manchester, students took part in the national movement in their own way.

On the front lawn of Trinity High School, a few students set up folding chairs in a circle near the flag pole. Senior Emily Gagne made her way around the circle taping a sheet of paper onto the back of each chair.

“On the outside ring we have the names of the students from Parkland and on the inside we have the names of the students and faculty from Columbine.”

Gagne and a few of her classmates organized this event on their own.

“This is not political. This is a memorial service, so we’re really just doing this to remember the kids. We’re not screaming ‘ban guns,’ we’re just asking that our officials do what needs to be done.”

Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

Matthew Demencuk walked around the circle, taping the last few names of victims onto the metal folding chairs.

“We hope that our students, those who take part in this, are just better educated, know more about gun violence, and can change the way they do things in their daily life to maybe reflect what they learn from today and hopefully make a change in their community.”

Nearby, Trinity High School Principal Dan Ballargeon watched the students as they finish setting up. He said they approached him in the days after the Parkland, Florida school shooting, wanting to be involved,  to help somehow in the response.

“They really wanted to not make a statement, but stand in solidarity and do what we can at a Catholic school, which is pray for those who have passed away.”

And pray is what they did. At 9 o’clock, several dozen more students and faculty joined in a circle around the empty chairs.

Student Matthew Demencuk led the prayer.

“May you guide all those to do what is necessary so that we will never again have to ask, ‘how many more?’. Amen.”

Credit Jason Moon for NHPR

There was a moment of silence. Then, a reading of the names of victims of both the Columbine and Parkland school shootings.

The ceremony ended with a student playing a recording of song written by two of Parkland students.

As the song ended, Gagne thanked her fellow students. Then the group silently shuffled back inside.

Jason Moon is a senior reporter and producer on the Document team. He has created longform narrative podcast series on topics ranging from unsolved murders, to presidential elections, to secret lists of police officers.

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