As high school students become college students, they're still years away from actually having to finish school and get a job where they'll need to apply the knowledge they learned in their classes. Some of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, though, have had to take a much different path. This tweet from David Hogg on his graduation day recognizes that.
Hogg's tweet thanks one teacher in particular for passing on some information that Hogg, unfortunately, immediately had to put into practice. "Thanks @mrjefffostermsd (My AP Gov teacher) for teaching me what a discharge petition is earlier this year," Hogg wrote on Twitter on Sunday, posting a picture of himself standing next to his AP Government teacher, Jeff Foster.
If you didn't have any background on the situation, you'd think that it was a perfectly normally graduation picture — a senior decked out in his cap and gown, adorned with cords and a stole, grinning and standing next to a favorite teacher. In this case, though, there's so much more behind the picture. The two are sporting the same stole, which reads "MSD Strong" — a message to honor the the lives lost when a shooter entered the school and changed everything.
That tragic day did more than just leave the survivors, and the nation watching them, reeling from yet another school shooting. It also catapulted David Hogg and several of his classmates into the white-hot light of the national spotlight when they started the Never Again MSD movement, which aims to eradicate gun violence. Hogg, along with several other now well-known classmates like Emma Gonzalez, Cameron Kasky, Jaclyn Corin, and Delaney Tarr, started a fight that would put everything that they learned in AP Government class directly to use.
The movement suffered a hit early on, when dozens of Parkland survivors went to Tallahassee to demand that lawmakers pass an assault weapons ban, as CNN described. This was only a week after the shooting, and the students' passion alone couldn't change the outcome of the vote. They ran into more difficulty around the same time, when right-wing TV personalities and media outlets began attacking the faces of the movement — Hogg himself with particular fervor, as The Guardian reported. Hogg quickly established a pattern of how he would deal with the unfounded attacks against him, and none of his strategies involved getting pulled into Twitter wars with trolls.
One of those troll-defeating strategies was to call for boycotts, like when Hogg got 27 advertisers to stop buying space on Laura Ingraham's Fox News show after she insulted Hogg about his college acceptances, SF Gate reported. Ingraham eventually apologized to Hogg, but he didn't call off the boycott.
Besides being a model for anyone who's ever felt threatened online, Hogg, along with his colleagues, has also accomplished a lot on the real world. They put together the March for Our Lives, which brought hundreds of thousands of people out into the streets to demand sensible gun control reforms. Hogg has spearheaded an initiative to get high school students registered to vote, as CBS Miami reported. The Never Again students have been traveling around the country and making media appearances constantly since the shooting, always pushing toward their ultimate goal of ending gun violence. They've kept the focus on gun violence prevention long after the media otherwise would have stopped covering what happened at their school.
In a perfect world, David Hogg wouldn't have needed to know what a discharge petition was (for the record, it's a tool that the minority party in the House can use to try to force a vote on a bill). But he does, and perhaps the gun violence prevention movement will benefit from the knowledge that he gained at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.