Lucy Peters’ tenacity, leadership skills and intelligence made her a star at Jericho High School.

Those attributes — and profound grief — also turned her into an impassioned voice for gun safety in the aftermath of the headline-making massacre last year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Peters’ beloved cousin, Scott Beigel, a geography teacher, was killed while trying to guide students to safety.

“I was really devastated,” said Peters, 18, “but I coped with it by taking action and helping society — instead of sitting on the couch and crying.”

Through her advocacy efforts, the Brookville teen accomplished what she had set out to do — raise fellow students’ and the public’s awareness about the need for gun control; pay tribute to her cousin’s memory; and support her aunt, Linda Beigel Schulman, an activist in promoting gun-safety legislation.

At the outset, Peters, who has two older twin brothers now in college, spearheaded the school’s participation in a couple of nationwide student walkouts protesting gun violence. The first event took place March 14, 2018, a month after the Parkland tragedy, and served as a memorial service. Peters not only addressed the rally but did everything from writing the biographies of all 17 victims to assigning students to read them.

The second walkout, on April 20, 2018, commemorated the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shootings. As the organizer, Peters helped her fellow students with their speeches, including assisting them in researching statistics on gun violence and strategies for combating it. She also spoke at the event.

“On both occasions, Lucy stood with the strength of an individual twice her age and offered emotional support to her peers and siblings,” noted Brian M. Deaner, Jericho’s school counselor.

After the walkouts, Peters presented Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) with a petition for gun safety laws that garnered 250 students’ signatures. As a result, she was invited to confer with him, his team and other students at roundtable discussions on stopping gun violence. In addition, Peters spoke at three Long Island rallies, including a Suozzi-led event that she helped coordinate, and met with other elected officials.

Throughout her high school career, Peters also went the distance in her rigorous studies, including AP classes, and on the playing field, where she was the captain of both the basketball and varsity soccer teams during her senior year. For her performance, she earned a raft of academic and athletic awards.

“She’s the way you want athletes to conduct themselves — by doing the right thing,” said John Mankowich, the school’s athletic director. “She is the whole package — a leader and a role model.”

And even when the going got rough, Peters pushed ahead as much as humanly possible. A member of the school’s jazz band, Peters continued to play the trumpet, a highly lung-dependent instrument, when she had pneumonia in her junior year.

Her only request was a chair — “in case I fell down,” Peters said.

HIGHER ED: Peters will attend Duke University and major in political science and biology.

FRESHMAN YEAR: “I want to explore my different academic interests, meet my new team and have new experiences.”

IF I RULED THE WORLD “I’d want to end violence in all forms and make people more empathetic and considerate of each other.”


©2019 Newsday

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