GHS Student Sets Out to Make Change


Senior Student Pamela Painter

Alli McCraw, Editor-In-Chief

According to CNN, “We’re only 12 weeks into 2018, and there have already been 17 school shootings where someone was hurt or killed. That averages out to 1.4 shootings a week.” These recent tragedies have not only affected those that were so devastatingly killed and hurt, but also their families, their peers, and all of those surrounding them. Everyone is affected when something as traumatic as this happens in a community, and no one truly understands how serious it actually is until it hits close to home – or this is what it seems like. However, Gaffney Senior Pamela Painter refuses to wait until this happens to her community. She’s fighting for now to prevent this traumatic event from happening in the future. She refuses to let her school and community be just another statistic.

I asked Painter to give me a summary of what she’s doing to enact change and why exactly she has decided to do it. I then asked her what inspired her to take a stand, and how she intends to use that stand. Her response couldn’t have been more inspiring.

Painter responded, “So what I’m currently doing is trying to get Gaffney High’s security measures to be updated and strengthened. I am also trying to form a suicide prevention week. I am trying to improve our security because I don’t see any precautions being taken to ensure everyone’s safety. After the Florida shooting I officially had enough of waiting for something to change, and I knew I was going to speak out at the next meetings I had, but I needed ideas on how we can fix our security. One day in class, Mr. Gregory asked us, ‘If you could prevent a school shooting, how would you?’ My class was flooded with ideas. I went home and all I could think about was, ‘Why didn’t I write anything down?’ I asked Mr. Gregory if we could do it again so I could write everyone’s ideas down to present them at the next superintendent’s meeting, and we did. I took advantage of when she asked if there was any questions or comments. I had the ideas printed out, and I told her about what we did. She was very impressed and told me that she would get back to me. I also did the same thing at the Student Improvement Council Meeting with Dr. Briscoe. I am trying to create a suicide prevention week to allow students to know that there are people who care and we have resources to help them at times of need. What inspired me to take a stand was the peers of the students who were shot. I wanted to change the security we have now and enforce it so we don’t have to worry about getting hurt. That is the last thing that should be on the students’ minds at school. What inspired me to take a stand on the suicide prevention is also the shooting. I believe that harming others/self is rooted from being bullied and not talking about their problems. We must address the root of the problem by helping our students feel unified and cared for. My whole goal is to improve Gaffney High. As Senior Class President, I see a lot that happens, and I believe there is room for improvement. If no one else wants to speak out, then I will speak for everyone to ensure that Gaffney High is safe and that everyone inside is safe, as well.”

Just reading her response to my question, I was inspired. This is one student who isn’t just talking about change, isn’t just saying what we could do to bring about change – she is ACTING upon the change she feels we need. She isn’t just including her ideas, either –  she’s listening to the opinions of others and including every one of them. She genuinely cares about the opinions of others and their safety. This is a student that WILL bring about change in our community.

I then asked Painter if there was anything else she wanted to add, and if there was anything she wanted her fellow student to know. Painter responded, “I just want everyone to know that I care for them and I really am trying to improve the school. There are resources to get help, and I want everyone to also know that they have a voice and they should use that voice to be an advocate for what they believe in.”

Painter is a strong, positive influence on all of those around her. Her efforts to bring about change are inspiring, and of a nature everyone should follow. Her voice for change in her community will not stop until they are heard. She knows what boundaries are set before her, and she’s willing to break every one of them if it means she gets the chance to positively impact the safety precautions and measurements of her community. She doesn’t want her school, her peers, nor her community to be just another statistic. She knows that if we all come together – we can be the change that shows just how much stronger we are than that.