A high school senior in Ohio is getting ready to graduate on May 19. But she refuses to forget the many students who weren’t able to graduate themselves as a result of school shootings, and is honoring them with her graduation cap.
Gina Warren tells Yahoo Lifestyle that she was inspired by the orange price tag displayed on graduation caps last year, which were created in an effort to make a statement against the NRA. And although she wanted to make a powerful statement against gun violence as well, Warren wanted to make it more personal.
“This is a topic that I am very passionate about,” the 18-year-old says. “It’s so heartbreaking to see how many kids who are just like me and my classmates lose their lives. I want people to see the names and think, no matter their political stance, that this is a problem.”
In order to display each of the names of victims from America’s numerous high school shootings, Warren had to get creative. So she made a QR code for the top of her cap that would then link out to a website she created and titled, “I graduated. These high school students couldn’t.”
The names of victims dating back to Columbine in 1999 are all displayed on the webpage, in addition to the websites for gun safety organizations, Everytown and March for Our Lives. And even though Warren has yet to walk across the stage at Teays Valley High School, her cap has already received lots of reactions — including kind words from the friends and families of some of the victims listed, as well as first responders from the shootings.
“They have thanked me for what I’m doing and told me how much it means to them,” Warren shares.
Still, she admits that not all of the responses are positive.
“I’m not trying to ‘push an agenda’ as many people are accusing me of,” she says. “I have my own opinions and everyone else has theirs.”
When it comes to gun violence at schools, however, Warren has never been one to stay silent. In the past, she wore an orange pin to prom for gun violence awareness, in addition to black sneakers that were bedazzled with the word, “Enough.”
Now, during her last moments as a high schooler, Warren’s graduation cap is just another way that she’s speaking out about the senseless violence.
“The bottom line is kids are dying and these kids can’t attend class, attend prom, or attend graduation,” Warren says, “which is something that every single student should be able to do.”
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