Blaine Ephrem | Saugus: A Survivor’s Perspective

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On Nov. 14, at 7:38 a.m. our lives were changed. Students, teachers and staff members will never be the same. At 7:38 a.m. we lost a student; a classmate; a friend. We lost a piece of our innocence. We are Saugus High School. We are Saugus Strong. We are United.

Hi. My name is Blaine Ephrem. I am a 14-year-old freshman at Saugus High School and this is my story.

I arrived at school at 7:30, a little earlier than normal, and went to the quad where I and friends normally meet in the mornings. We chatted about the Spanish test that was going to take place that day. At 7:37, I saw him pull the gun from his backpack. And at 7:38 a.m., he took his first shot.

Dead silence.

(I think this was the scariest part of it all). Then the next shot rang out and by then I had screamed to my friend, “RUN!” We ran up the quad to seek the shelter of a classroom. When we finally got into the classroom and hid, the reality of what had just happened started to set in. I will never forget the tears streaming down the faces of my fellow classmates. The fear that my teachers were trying to conceal from us. The helpless sound of children quietly sobbing in the fear that he was coming to hurt us. At 7:38 a.m., Nov. 14, our lives were forever changed.

Saugus students were prepared for a situation like this to arise and for that I am grateful. However, despite all the preparations, there was no escape for Dominic and Gracie as they were targeted by the shooter.

I miss him. I miss him so much. Dominic Blackwell. Some may have known him as a teammate, a student, a classmate, a brother, a son, but I knew him best as a friend. Dominic Blackwell was truly something special. 

I can tell you that he was the most positive and happy person you’d ever meet. I can tell you that you would never see him with a frown on his face unless you beat him in arm wrestling. I can tell you that he didn’t deserve to go out like this. As a member of JROTC and a big brother of three, he was very responsible and loved life, especially with the addition of his baby brother, who he would talk to me about. He was always cracking jokes and he had a special place in his heart for his favorite show “Spongebob,” which he loved so much. 

I like to think that he was too good for this world, and that’s why he left us. I just wish that I could hear the sound of his laughter again. His laugh and his smile was so radiant that it made anyone smile. I wish I could have told him “I love you” one more time. But I can’t. He’s gone. But his legacy will be with us forever. I love you more than you could ever know, Dominic.

Rest easy, Brother.

We want change.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that the right to bear arms is guaranteed in the Constitution’s Second Amendment. While I respect and acknowledge the Second Amendment, I believe that we have a collective interest in keeping firearms out of the hands of those who want to harm innocent people. For many years, the gun lobbyists have used their power and financial resources to influence our lawmakers and governors. But the influence they pressed on our lawmakers and governors will never compare to the fear Saugus High School students and teachers had to endure. 

Fleeing for their lives with their hands up as officers ran toward them with their guns drawn leaves a long-lasting scar. This is where our lawmakers need to step in to take action. School shouldn’t be a place where we fear for our lives. It should be a place where we focus on our education. We will always remember what went down at 7:38 a.m. We don’t want to accept these horrific actions of violence as routine. We want our voices heard. 

We want our leaders to not only acknowledge this detrimental issue, but also to take much-needed action to keep us safe. We can’t wait for the next shooting to take place so you can take action. We need gun control laws. And we need it now. But what we need the most is the support and leadership of our lawmakers and governors in America.

We shouldn’t be fearing for our lives in an environment where we call home. The only instance where we should be running at school is if we are late for class, not for our lives.

We can change things in this world with the support and guidance of our leaders to prevent events like this from happening again.

Blaine Ephrem is a Saugus High School student.

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