Students participate in a national school walkout
April 17, 2018
In light of recent events, students and teachers chose to stand up and walk out of class on March 14 at 10 a.m. to protest gun laws in the United States. To show their support for the 17 victims of the Parkland, Fla. school shooting, students and teachers chose to spend 17 minutes away from their daily routine.
Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, the sponsor of the walkout, encouraged students to do more than share their thoughts about the Feb. 14 shooting, but instead to make some noise on the issue.
“We want to show the country that, even though we’re students, we have a voice and we can stand up for ourselves,” sophomore Katie Solodar said. “We recognize that there is something wrong going on and we need change.”
Though the demonstration happened nationwide, the school walkout was organized by a committee including senior Charlie Woodruff, juniors Tim McAuliffe, Maryam Oyebamiji, and sophomores Emma Caplinger, Lydia Harter, Cate McBride and Sabrina Bohn who met with Principal Jeremy Mitchell to discuss the walkout.
“I had expressed interest in doing the walkout and had already started advertising it, and then I was invited to this meeting with other students who shared the same interest,” Bohn said. ”We wanted to show that we absolutely need the end of gun violence and we can’t safely go to class without being in fear of our lives.”
Students that participated in the walkout disagree with the way that politicians are handling the issue of gun control, and, by this demonstration, have demanded action and stronger regulations enforced by the government.
“Stronger gun control definitely needs to happen because in countries where gun control is tighter than in the United States, there haven’t been the kinds of shootings that we have had,” Solodar said. I think that [in order to own a gun] you should need a workplace reference or something similar. You should need someone to testify for you to say that you’re mentally stable.”
Some students feel that the walkout is not enough. Solodar hopes not only to change national law, but hopes West will increase its safety measures as well.
“I think we should do more scenario training so we’re prepared if an incident happens when we’re in the cafeteria or the bathroom or the hallway,” Solodar said. “Training is important because living in ignorant bliss and not thinking that anything bad could happen is what will get you hurt. The fact that we’re educating ourselves is important.”
The walkout was not school sponsored, however, some teachers, including history teacher and feminist club sponsor Lara Boles, do support what it stands for.
“As a teacher, I feel affected by the fear of school shootings that happen so frequently now,” Boles said. “I, on a personal level, support what they’re doing and I feel like the safety of students and teachers in schools shouldn’t be a political issue.”
The walkout took place in the main gym which allowed several students to speak on behalf of the students of Parkland and share their opinions on gun control in the United States. However, Bohn thinks that the walkout would have made a greater impact had it taken place outside.
“We thought that it would be better to do it in the gym,” Bohn said. “There’s a sound system in the gym and it takes less time to walk to the gym than to the football field, but now we wish we had been more adamant about doing it outside because the rest of the nation did it outside.”
The purpose of the walkout was to show support for the students of Parkland by protesting gun laws and Congress’ inaction and writing letters to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to express their sympathy.
“I think what’s going to help them the most is for them to see that we’re supporting them,” Solodar said. “We’ve got their backs and they’re not the only ones fighting.”