The Firefighter Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund Website

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Kaela Diamond:
2013 Winner
FDNY Engine 298

Kaela Diamond

Winning Essay

I was in my eighth period College Writing class, desks pushed around to form a circle, reading some Hamlet, when the principal came over the loud speaker and told us that we were under a lock-in. My teacher paused for a moment to tell us the procedure- we can carry on with what we are doing, but no one is allowed in or out of the classrooms- and then continued with the lesson. My classmates and I weren’t that surprised to hear the drill, as we have been conducting many in the past few months. It wasn’t until Sr. Pat, our campus minister, came on the loud speaker; she told us about a developing tragedy in an elementary school. Twenty children and teachers were just killed in a school shooting. The girls in my room gasped and looked around; there was an elementary school nearby- could that be the one? Is this why we are under a lock-in? Of course, Sr. Pat knew as much as we did at that point. Then the bell rang, we got up, and left to our next class, unable to process what just happened. Unfortunately, experiences like this have been had before; it seems that every time you turn on the news, there is another drive by in a poor neighborhood, a violent dispute on a city corner, or a tragic end to a young life because of a gun. Now, with the shooting in Newtown, people are questioning the rights of citizens to own guns in America, its consequences, and the possibility for a change to occur to prevent anything like this from happening again.

The second amendment states that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” The intentions behind this were to give more security and power to the newly created democratic nation. America had just won the American Revolution against Great Britain, a tyrannical country that gave few rights and liberties to its colonists. So, when creating the Constitution, the Founding Fathers included the right to own guns only second to the right to freedom of religion in the Bill of Rights. At the time the Founding Fathers were justified to do so; they were scared of creating the kind of government they fought so hard from which to be freed, and giving the citizens more power with the Bill of Rights would prevent this. Moreover, the writers of the Constitution wanted citizens to be protected from any future attacks by the British or by the Native Americans. In terms of a militia, the Founding Fathers did not want a standing army, but instead a group of men, who, when called upon, would be ready, with their guns, for an emergency.

Although the original intentions of the Founding Fathers when creating the 2nd Amendment is understood and justified, I don’t think they envisioned that they would have to protect innocent school children from citizens who have the right to “keep and bear arms.” But now the present government must get more involved in protecting our young, innocent citizens by placing limits on the 2nd Amendment. One way it can do this is by making any automatic, or any “war-like,” weapons illegal. These kinds of guns are purposely designed for the military, not for the use by the average citizen. I do believe that Americans have the right to own guns, but owning guns like these seem very unnecessary and those who do own these kinds are taking their right a little too far. Our government should become involved and create restrictions on the kind of guns that citizens can own.

I consider myself to be “pro-Second Amendment” in the sense that Americans should have the right to bear arms, but I believe that this right should come with some limits in order to guarantee the safety of Americans. My history teacher made a great point when we were discussing our rights and liberties as American citizens: “people can do whatever they want and be as careless as they want with these rights, but when it involves the safety and welfare of other people, that is when their rights get taken away”. These rights are given to us to protect us and give us some kind of power against the government, but when they are used to harm others, it is no longer a right.

And in today’s society where the use of guns is leading to more and more injuries and deaths, the government needs to become more involved and place some limitations in order to create a more secure environment. Until these limitations are set in Congress, the least the government can do is to provide financial resources to provide education and training to teachers, staff, and students to protect themselves against violence, such as a shooting, in schools. Schools have been very successful in educating students on protecting themselves and others. For example, anti-bullying education, CPR/ Heimlich education, stranger danger education, drug awareness education (DARE and SADD), and school safety drills, i.e. lock downs and evacuation drills. We can educate and train teachers, staff, and students about what to do in case there is a school crisis. Therefore, one way our government can be more involved is by providing the funding and resources necessary to initiate and continue school safety education and procedures. This can be as simple as providing schools with something as simple as professional development or as complex as providing a trained security officer at the entrance of the school.

There is no simple solution for this issue. My thoughts and opinions may seem like one quiet voice, but we, as American citizens, when heard as one loud voice, can do our part to support the government in enacting tough gun laws, to support the government in providing educational resources to our schools, and to support the government in protecting our most innocent.

Biography

We would like to wish Kaela Diamond the best of luck moving on to Catholic Uni­ver­si­ty of Amer­i­ca. Congratulations!

My name is Kaela Diamond and I am very grateful to have received a generous educational scholarship from the Christopher Santora Educational Scholarship Fund. Education is a very important topic to me, and being given the means to be able to further my education is something that I would not take for granted. Thank you very much to the Santora family for giving me the opportunity to achieve these means.

I am eighteen years old and live in Massapequa with my parents, Hugh and Kelly, and my fifteen year old sister, Sarah. My mom works for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt as an educational consultant and my dad is a fireman of Engine 298 in Jamaica, Queens. My sister and I both attend Our Lady of Mercy Academy in Syosset, but by the time this is published, I will have graduated and will be thinking of the future: college. I will be attending The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and will be majoring in Architecture and Design.

During my past four years in high school, I made the most of my experience. I am a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society, a Leaders’ Club member, captain of the Stripe Drill team, treasurer of Art Club, senior contributor to the Yearbook, and a member of the varsity swim team. I also volunteer at the snack bar during games, at food drives, and bake sales.

When I am not consumed with schoolwork and extracurricular activities, I have a few hobbies. I really like to sew, and I have made some of my own clothes. I also like reading, traveling, photography, and I recently got into gardening. I also love being on the water; my family owns a boat, so during the summer we are usually at the beach, fishing, swimming, and spending long weekends in Montauk. I’m also a big foodie- I can’t cook or bake very well, but I am up for trying new dishes and delicacies.

Family is very important to me, as well; it is the one group of people you can always count on to have your back and love you unconditionally. I have a very large family, which I am constantly surrounded by. I don’t think I would be who I am today without them.

I am really looking forward to the coming months because I know this will be a time when I become fully independent and responsible. While I am away at college, it will be my chance to engage in new experiences and opportunities, and to find out who I really am as a person. This scholarship from the Santora Fund allows students like me to be able to follow their dreams and discover their passions because it is giving us the opportunity to further our education. Thank you again to the Santora family for this opportunity; I am so very appreciative.

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