Last April School for Advanced Studies senior Lucas Suarez was one of four students who organized a school walk-out at the Miami-Dade Kendall Campus to support Margery Stoneman Douglass students in their efforts again gun violence.
“We had the Walk Out, voter registration, and we had students come out and speak,” he says. “We had an expert on gun violence and trauma. It was fairly successful.”
The students planned the event with the blessings of the school administration. During the Walk Out students congregated by the portable housing school’s main office.
“Close to half of the kids came to hear the speakers,” he says. “Not all of them. It depended which you had. Some teachers had exams that they couldn’t move.”
The walkout and voter registration were mainly aimed at the high school students.
“The stray college student would walk around and we would get one or two to register,” he says.
At the end of the day, they registered three dozen. Suarez says registering the students was a simple process.
“You just print out the form online and you pass it out and kids fill them out,” he says. “Most of them had ID. We were registering them for two or three hours.”
The school shooting issue never quite goes away. Suarez says even now, there is always a slight unease of the thought of a school shooting happening. It made participating in the walk-out important to him. The voter registration aspect was just as important.
“Voter registration is always an issue I cared about. It does hit close to home,” he says, particularly because the Valentine’s Day school shooting happened at a town only an hour away.
“It’s always been one of the issues I cared deeply about but it was hyped by the shootings.”
He continued his activism this summer, when he worked as a canvasser for the successful campaign for county commissioner Daniela Levine Cava.
When Suarez graduates from SAS, he leaves with an Associates in Art degree. Those credits allow him to go to college as a junior – depending on which college he attends. One of the top colleges on his list is the University of Florida – it will accept all his credits.
He’s also interested Georgetown because his career goal is to join the State Department. Suarez plans on majoring in International Relations.
Before attending SAS, he attended the International Baccalaureate program at Coral Reef High School. He switched to SAS because it offered him a lot more freedom in his courses.
He also likes the small school aspect of SAS.
“It gives you more opportunities to be an officer in different clubs, or start a program if you want,” he says. “I helped start the mock trial club at school and Model UN. It’s all very student led.”
For community service, Suarez spent a month-and-a-half volunteering at Shake-a-Leg in Coconut Grove.
“They used to take the campers to the middle of Biscayne Bay and I’d assist them in that,” he says. “They give them a lesson in marine biology, conversation and the values of not polluting the ocean.”
Before volunteering, he attended courses that earned him a boating license and taught him how to deal with special needs children.
He enjoyed the time he spent at Shake-a-Leg.
“It was lots of fun most of the time the weather was good,” he says. “The upside is you’re going to the middle of Biscayne Bay and it’s the summer.”
Suarez also volunteered at Coral Reef Elementary, helping whenever the school had special events.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld