After the February shooting in Parkland, Florida, the editors of Palo Alto High School’s student magazine wanted to make a statement about gun violence in America.
So for their new issue of Verde, they added a physical “bullet hole” which pierces the cover and every page inside.
According to an editor’s note, the hole is intended to make the point that gun violence can happen anywhere, at any time.
“It’s our job to somehow extend the dialogue of how students feel and act towards everything that is happening,” co-editor Emma Cockerell told CNN. “We also want to call for a reform that needs to happen.”
The idea for the hole was a response to the February 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people died.
But students in Palo Alto never imagined that before the issue was out they’d have their own gun-violence scare.
On March 29, as editors gathered to discuss final touches to the magazine, the words “this is not a drill” crackled over the school’s loudspeakers. A phone threat to “shoot up” the school had prompted officials to place the campus on lockdown.
Even though police soon determined the threat was a hoax, the students still experienced the fear that comes with running to barricade doors and look for cover.
“The second we found out it was a hoax we were relieved, but the lockdown was still in place. So we decided to do some last-minute changes (to the issue) as we discussed our feelings and thoughts going through our heads at that very moment,” Cockerell said.
During the lockdown, which lasted 86 minutes, editors decided to dedicate a whole page to their personal experiences that day.
“When we talk about the lockdown and the fear of that moment, everything was just very real,” Cockerell said. “Running to throw our desks towards the door, students hiding and really not knowing what’s going on or what was going to happen, thinking “this is it?,” it’s just an experience we thought that needed to be documented as it was happening.”
All the stories and most of the ads in the issue are somehow impacted by the bullet. Every time they flip a page, readers are reminded to reflect on what’s missing.
Palo Alto, home to Stanford University, is a liberal community. But Cockerell said this issue of Verde recognizes multiple political perspectives.
“We wanted to make sure to include both angles … not just of those against guns but also those who are pro-gun, so we could see everyone’s point of view,” she said.