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Tampa Students Share Their School Experiences After Parkland

Roberto Roldan
WUSF Public Media
Three Tampa students (from left: Julize Diaz, Safiyyah Ameer, Alex Barrow) told local leaders many high school students live in fear following the Parkland school shooting.

Since the Parkland school shooting, sixteen-year-old Alex Barrow says Hillsborough High School has an environment of fear.

Many of his fellow students are afraid that their school could be the next site of a mass shooting. Even teachers are feeling it, Barrow said.

"I was walking around the hallways and I noticed that paper seemed to be covering all the windows," he said. "At first I didn't realize why and then I realized it was to prevent a shooter from looking in."

Barrow and two other students told members of the civic groupCafe Con Tampa that some students are choosing to turn their fear into political engagement.

As a freshman at Blake High School in Tampa, Juliez Diaz has never taken a civics class. She said the protests against gun violence sparked by the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School have sent her online, researching gun laws and arguments for and against.

"There's been a lot of resistance in schools, a lot of protests, arguments and debates," she said. "The atmosphere is definitely more educational than it was before, which is crazy because it's a high school."

Fourteen-year-old Safiyyah Ameer helped organize a recent protest at Blake High School where more than 100 students marched from the school to Downtown Tampa.

She said protesting can be an outlet for what many students are experiencing. But juggling organizing alongside her coursework hasn't been easy.

"It's emotionally draining and as a student I shouldn't be experiencing this," she said, " It's sad that as a child, as a just-turned-teenager, that I have to do this because adults have failed us."

The students asked for support in their protests for what they called "comprehensive gun control." 

Hillsborough County students are planning a march to coincide with a national school walkout on March 14.

Roberto Roldan is a senior at the University of South Florida pursuing a degree in mass communications and a minor in international studies.