Why Saugus Matters 

For years, the teens in this country have screamed and begged for gun control. The constant looming fear that something would happen to us was imminent and ever present. But we all hoped it would never happen to us. 

But it did. 

November 14th, 2019. 

My alma mater, Saugus High School, became victim to the gun epidemic occurring across our country. I graduated in early 2019, so emotionally I had sporadic breakdowns trying to see what I could do to help. My friends were in shock, many had been there when it happened. I was in a deep state of survivor’s guilt, wishing I had been there to do something, anything. I wished that it never happened, and I wished it would be alright even though I knew it wasn’t. I sat devastated in my room, refusing to go to classes for fear that I would break down at any given point in the day. I bought a ticket home immediately, and was on the next bus home.  

As I sat in my dorm, drowning in my emotions, I could hear the world moving on around me a matter of minutes after the last bullet was shot. And it made me realize even more so that our entire country has been so deeply desensitized to loss because of how often this is, that people didn’t seem to care. 

For years, we were vocal because we knew it WOULD happen. We weren’t heard, so now we will yell because it DID happen. 

After Parkland, Saugus held a walkout I had spent weeks organizing.The fact that a year after that walkout, where hundreds of students rallied in the quad, a shooting happened in that same space is surreal to me. When we screamed for justice for Parkland, we didn’t know we’d scream for justice for Saugus soon after. 

But here we are. 

And here I am, with tears in my eyes, writing this hours after a tragedy at a place I considered to be like home. That many students like me considered home. These were students with futures and hopes and dreams. These were sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, and friends. We are in a state of grievance, and our community is damaged from the aftermath of this horrendous event. 

Let this be the last one, please.


We march so often, our shoes are worn. We need to focus on being able to graduate, and not have to focus on whether or not it’s our last day. 

I am writing this, because Saugus was my home for years. I graduated only months ago, and I visited plenty in the months before I left for university. Saugus was more than just a school for me, they were my support. When my parents and I split ways my senior year of high school, I found myself homeless. Saugus gave me support, they gave me resources, and they gave me supplies to help me succeed to get to where I am. The staff and students are my friends, I loved Saugus and I stand a Centurion even now. Saugus matters to me, and it matters to our community and most importantly it matters to the students affected today. 

 So I say this one more time.

Let this be the last one. Please.

My name is Ashley Calkins. I am a 19 year old Saugus Graduate, former Students Demand Action representative of Saugus High, former Safe School Ambassadors President of Saugus High, and the former Saugus President of Students Next UP. I spent 2 years in Saugus student government, and I am a permanent resident of Saugus, CA studying at Humboldt State for the school year.