Morgan defies odds; graduation is Saturday
MILFORD – Children of single mothers aren’t supposed to fare well. And children born to teenage single mothers? Doomed to mental, social, emotional problems, they tend to drop out of school and live in poverty, right?
Not always. Born when her mother was 16, Kaitlynn Morgan is an honor roll student, a member of the National Honor Society and graduating from Milford High School on Saturday. This year, she turned into a student leader, organizing and leading a school walkout in March to protest gun violence. In September she’ll be attending the University of Alabama, on a scholarship, to study criminal justice.
Not that it was easy. Kaitlynn and her mother moved to New Hampshire from Alabama when she was 7 and then moved all over the state until they finally settled in Milford.
Starting high school here in the second semester of her freshman year, when everyone else seemed to have established a circle of friends was hard, but eventually she established connections to teachers and other students.
“It was a big struggle, but I always had my eye on the future,” she said. “My Mom always pushed me academically. School is my rock.”
That rock didn’t feel very secure a few years ago, when she was a freshman at Manchester West High School and the school went into lockdown after someone entered with a weapon that turned out to be a BB gun. Kaitlynn and her terrified classmates huddled in the corner of a classroom, texting “I love you” to family and friends.
The situation resolved without violence as the intruder was arrested outside their classroom.
“I don’t think my mother ever held me as tight as she did that day,” Kaitlynn said.
It’s no surprise that the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, reawakened that trauma and reinforced her conviction that she needed to take a stand against gun violence.
She and another student, Margaret Sawyer, worked with school administrators to organize Milford High School’s 17-minute anti-gun violence walkout on March 14.
Kaitlynn not only asked her fellow students to sign petitions and attend the National March for Our Lives rally in Concord, she also urged them to be kind to one another and respect the opinions of those who didn’t walk out.
“It was the first time I felt I was doing something truly meaningful,” she said. “Meg and I met with Dr. (Branford) Craven,” the principal, “several times and we figured out a respectful way” to have the walkout “and make sure it didn’t interfere with people’s education.”
Kaitlynn’s mother is Emily Morgan, who founded the Handmaid Coalition last year to protest what she called misogynist attitudes among New Hampshire lawmakers. She is understandably proud of her daughter.
“I am extremely biased, but I find her to be quite remarkable,” she said.
Kaitlynn knows she might find a somewhat more conservative culture at UA, and that does not seem to faze her in the least.
“I love to hear other people’s perspective,” she says, and “I genuinely adore the South and love its community feeling. Being around people who are different opens a world of opportunities. … I’m beginning to build an awesome life for myself, and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Kaitlynn graduates with Milford Hgh School’s class of 2018 on Saturday morning. Ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. at the football field, weather permitting.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.