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In Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school teacher Ivy Schamis marched with student survivors of last month's school shooting in Florida, and says it was an "unbelievable" experience.
Schamis (@Schamis) joins Here & Now's Peter O'Dowd to discuss the march and what's ahead for the student activists.
On how she feels following the "March For Our Lives"
"I still feel sad. I'm sad about the whole event, but I am ... I feel hopeful from this weekend, the weekend was incredible. And I just feel very rejuvenated and very, very inspired by the students and everybody that was marching from every walk of life from every corner of the United States. It was unbelievable."
On what moments stood out
"Emma González was a student of mine. I had her entire freshman year, and I also have her in Holocaust class, although she was not in the Holocaust class that was shot into. Her speech — all their speeches — were very powerful. But the part where she said all the names of our 17 fallen angels and she said, 'They will never ... ' and they will never anything, because they're not with us anymore, and we need to do everything we can to make sure that no one forgets them. So 'they will never' was a very powerful moment for me. And also several students that were in the class were on the stage. I had Aalayah Eastmond, who spoke about what happened that day, and Samantha Fuentes, and she was so poised, and she had thrown up on the stage and she still got up and was able to continue her message, which I'm incredibly proud of her."
On how everything has transpired
"We've been saying this for a long time, and I just think now the world knows what we've known all of these years: what an unbelievable student body we have. And everyone at that school seems to be like this, so you can talk to any of the students and you'll get these same incredible answers and insightful thoughts. And Samantha Fuentes was sitting close to my desk at that time when the shooter ambushed us, actually, and that's just how the kids are at this school.
"I just think the community is something unique. And, oftentimes, I really think it's from their families and their parents, and this is the kind of place where they don't really take no for an answer. Which is not always a great position to be in if you're teaching their child and they have an 89 in class, and they'll just persevere until they get that A, and that just seems like that's indicative of the whole community. And I think it's the families, but I also think our school has prepped these kids to be independent thinkers and to be outspoken. And also part of this Holocaust class where we talk every day about how to combat hate and how to be an upstander, and it's not good enough just to be a bystander."
"I just feel very rejuvenated and very, very inspired by the students and everybody that was marching from every walk of life from every corner of the United States."Ivy Schamis
On handling criticism and skepticism
"I was there. I was in the classroom cowering in the corner with my students. Sid Fischer's next to me going, 'Mrs. Schamis, are we going to die today?' So they're not crisis actors. They were there and they saw all of this. We were ambushed. And two kids, two awesome, awesome, amazing students with the brightest future were killed inside my classroom. There is no way they are crisis actors, and we're telling them just to ignore all of the criticism, because if we pay attention to it, then it continues. So that's impossible. It was impossible to do CPR on a student that was just riddled with bullets from an AR-15. Impossible."
On the argument that the students are blinded by optimism when it comes to enacting change
"I think it's time for change. And I think that optimism is what's going to help them get through all of this. ... I mean, I know it's going to be a tough road, but I think they're up for it. And this — if anything gave them motivation, Valentine's Day, 2018, sure did.
On her day-to-day life
"We're all in it together, and there's no way I'm going to let them down. So I go everyday to work, and I try to put a smile on my face, and I continue to teach the message of the Holocaust. Those Holocaust survivors are actually what is giving me inspiration, and I'm able to pass that on to the students. I think about what they suffered through and how they had to just pick up the pieces of their lives after the war, so it's helping us, I think, understand or empathize with what we're learning in the classroom."
This article was originally published on March 26, 2018.
This segment aired on March 26, 2018.
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