PHS Student Body Takes Action Protesting Against Gun Violence


PHS Junior Maria Akalonu holds up a sign saying “I want to read books, not eulogies.” Photographer: Silver Lunt

Ranger Ledoux, Patrick Slover, and Silver Lunt, Paper Clip Staff/Writer

PORTSMOUTH – Last Tuesday Portsmouth High School students staged a walk-out over concerns of an increase in gun violence in schools. Students and teachers united in this common cause as they marched around the exterior of the high school building, ending with a congregation on the football field.

Students congregate on school turf at Tuesday’s demonstration.
Photographer: Silver Lunt

The walk-out was planned and led by PHS seniors Gabby Rothstein and Cami Zadravec, who both gave speeches to the student body urging action. In an interview with Zadravec and Rothstein, Rothstein explained their motivation as “You can’t really rely on other people to be the source of change.”

Last month, PHS was threatened by a man who filmed and posted a Snapchat video of himself holding a gun inside his car in front of PHS saying “Imma gonna shoot up the school.” When asked how this recent threat affected the school environment Zadravec responded with “It became very real for us.” 

Rothstein added, “there is power in proximity, The closer we are to things the more things resonate.”

Students march around the back of Portsmouth High School.
Photographer: Silver Lunt




The two seniors worked closely with the administration to make sure that the event ran  smoothly, collaborating heavily with principal Stephen Chinosi and student leader Jaclyn Chisholm according to Zadravec. 

“[Chisholm] [said] everyone is willing to back you up. It’s pretty much in your hands. However you want to do it, we’ll support you,” said Rothstein.

“[This] isn’t picking a side, but participating in action,” said Chinosi. “The next step is reaching out to the larger community to make safe parks, schools, theaters.”

According to Pew Research Center, in the year 2021, the most recent year with complete data available, 48,830 Americans died from gun violence, a 23% increase from 2019. In that same timeframe gun deaths among US kids increased by 50% Both the number and rate of children and teens killed by gunfire in 2021 is higher than it’s been since at least 1999, which is the earliest year available for information on minors in the CDC’s mortality database.


PHS is also home to exchange students, two of which are from Spain. Nico Murgica and Nico De Andres claim that school life and gun control was much safer in Spain. “We just go to the school, the doors are open because it’s safe, and we are going to feel safe in every moment at school,” said Murgica. Murgica and De Andres were in the same class during a lockdown in December which resulted due to hoax calls that placed threats on PHS. “You never know when it’s going to happen, so it’s really risky,” said De Andres.

Patrick Ganz, PHS English teacher, stood on the outskirts of the crowd of students on the turf. “I’ve been here 26 years. This is the first time I’ve seen so many students join together to demand change. It gives me hope.

English teacher Patrick Ganz rallying with the students. Photo by Patrick Slover.



Portsmouth High School Sophomore Morgan Ruhnke holding a homemade sign saying ‘Fear has no place in School’. Photo by Patrick Slover.