Gina Warren is a member of the Teak Valley High School graduating class of 2019.
When it came time to decorate their graduation caps, people were expecting glitz, sparkle, bright colors, etc. from her.
That's not what she went with. Instead, Gina opted for a simple design that made a statement.
Sitting around with her friends, the group—like so many others across the nation—got to discussing how they would decorate their graduation caps.
That's when she got her idea.
Gina explained to KDKA News:
"I want to honor them more than anything. Nobody that I know personally has been affected by gun violence, but it's just so heartbreaking to see all these kids who have the same lives as me and my friends. They play the same sports and learn the same subjects. I know that this can happen anywhere and I just constantly put myself in the shoes of the people in these communities."
She decided to combine her tech skills with her desire to make a statement and came up with a simple, bold plan. In a sea of colorful graduation caps, Gina's will stand out.
It will be bold, black and white, and won't say anything at all.
Instead, Gina has opted for a scanable QR code that leads to a website she built.
The site simply states:
"i graduated. these high school students couldn't."
It then lists the names of school shooting victims from the last 20 years. It's a long list.
The list is uncomfortably, tragically, long.
i decorated my graduation cap https://t.co/FBzQ8BTIxo— Gina (@Gina)1557436081.0
After she shared her cap design with Twitter, responses came pouring in.
People were really moved by it.
@Gi10eight @ghostinmutual congratulations on graduating! also, this cap is so beautiful and important. brought tear… https://t.co/juz6N6NZk7— jen (@jen)1557466889.0
@Gi10eight i think it’s fair to say that this is the most significant and moving graduation cap in existence— ⋆ 𝓵𝓲𝓿 ⋆ (@⋆ 𝓵𝓲𝓿 ⋆)1557440406.0
@Gi10eight I thought it would be a meme but it was a meaningful message. Love it ❤— Qrow (@Qrow)1557449458.0
@Gi10eight @heyimdanielasup I love this so much. Twitter has warped my mind I expected it to open porn or something but this is incredible— chip / arya stark for the iron throne (@chip / arya stark for the iron throne)1557515216.0
@Gi10eight As a high school teacher, seeing things like this is the kind of thing that reassures me that the future… https://t.co/N7taGI6OvW— Josh Mauthe (@Josh Mauthe)1557604604.0
Except "this guy"—there's always a "this guy."
Pro tip: Nobody ever, ever, likes the "this guy" who, for whatever reason, can't handle good things and needs to make it about stuff that it's just not about.
"This guy" had a lot to say:
@Loading404nf @Gi10eight that is so obviously not the point she’s making, not sure why you’re bringing it up— matt (@matt)1557531139.0
@Loading404nf @Gi10eight their goal is literally fewer dead children due to gun violence— matt (@matt)1557531574.0
@Loading404nf @dogfather okay... then make your own graduation cap about car accidents. just move on dude. i’m a hi… https://t.co/08Pm9vUtPH— Gina (@Gina)1557532071.0
Once Gina dealt with the troll that seems to come standard-issue with these sorts of posts, it was time to move on to improving her work. What started out as Gina working alone soon became something of a community project.
People helped her with formatting issues, corrections on spellings, adding names that were missed etc...
Everyone came together to try and make it as perfect a tribute as it could be.
@princessuglyn it is fixed on the site. it was a formatting issue. so sorry for that— Gina (@Gina)1557521143.0
@mollyvdunn thank you. i’ll add.— Gina (@Gina)1557491932.0
@gayforgurira thank you! i’ll fix it.— Gina (@Gina)1557529678.0
@peachy_as_fxck @dvrtbag thank you. i will add.— Gina (@Gina)1557526897.0
Soon, her idea started to spread to other graduating students.
Gina took the time to share the QR code with everyone who asked—and lots of people asked.
@752wonderland i don’t mind at all! congrats on graduating!— Gina (@Gina)1557486326.0
@Gi10eight I GRADUATE TOMORROW WHERE CAN I GET THIS QR Code?!?— Sage Repp (@Sage Repp)1557536698.0
@Gi10eight is it cool if i put the code on my cap too? 💕— amy (@amy)1557509013.0
@Gi10eight honestly want to use this when i graduate next year— steph (@steph)1557458430.0
@Gi10eight I really want to do this for my cap too. Is this something you're willing to share?— aspiring human ✨ (@aspiring human ✨)1557540548.0
People whose lives were personally changed by school shootings spoke up to thank Gina for her work.
@Gi10eight I personally knew Casey Jordan and “Paco” Fransisco Fernandez and they would have been proud of this. Th… https://t.co/UEXZhQzSQR— ↞BreAnna↠ (@↞BreAnna↠)1557523317.0
@Gi10eight Thank you for remembering the Chardon High victims. It was so long ago, few people do. It happened so cl… https://t.co/h0BHUaFR04— Shelby Barron (Potter) (@Shelby Barron (Potter))1557521163.0
@Gi10eight hi- as a student from Marshall county, I would like to say thank you for this. it means so much 🧡💙— lily (@lily)1557542025.0
@Gi10eight thank you for remembering preston and bailey, my classmates live on bc of people like you 🧡💙— darbs ⚢ (@darbs ⚢)1557541426.0
@Gi10eight @averipresleyy My heart broke again when I saw Angeliqueand Shana on there wish they could still be here 💔— ↯ ˡᶦˡ ˢᵃᵈᵇᵒᶦ ⧖ (@↯ ˡᶦˡ ˢᵃᵈᵇᵒᶦ ⧖)1557531361.0
@Gi10eight thank you for including Marshall. this is incredible 🧡💙— Kailan 🔮🕯✨ (@Kailan 🔮🕯✨)1557518614.0
@Gi10eight @COSMlCLOKI Thank you for including the Santa Fe victims. My hometown is Santa Fe, Texas and I’m glad yo… https://t.co/xdsOFAlY8F— Mackenzie*ENDGAME SPOILERS* (@Mackenzie*ENDGAME SPOILERS*)1557450920.0
@Gi10eight Casey Jordan from Aztec, NM is my loved one and we miss her every. single. second. of. every. single. da… https://t.co/4Vs5lRgjUF— Tamara Pena Szekely (@Tamara Pena Szekely)1557457503.0
This QR code will be seen in graduations at different high schools around the country and it's thanks to Gina and the Twitter community who came together to make it the best it could be.
Listen to the kids, folks. They've got a lot to say.