CCSD Prepares for Student’s Organized Walkout

Staff Writer: Kate O’Brien

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Parkland High School survivors protesting for action and gun control laws to prevent a school shooting again.  Photo Gathered by: Emily Hailstone Photo Courtesy of: The Phoenix and Facebook Never Again Movement

On March 14, 2018 students around the nation came together as one to protest gun safety laws. The date of the walkout – March 14 – is significant because it was the one-month anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where 17 lives were taken.

The walkout took place on Wednesday, March 14, at 10 am local time, and last for 17 minutes to honor the lives of those killed at Stoneman Douglas. On the day of the walkout, the students were instructed to wear the color orange, in honor of the Parkland High School victims. “There will be some people giving speeches, and there will be a balloon release of 17 balloons and everyone there will be wearing orange. The number 17 is for the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting.” (Shayna Degraw, Junior)

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Parkland students making their voices heard with their slogan never again. Photo gathered by: Emily Hailstone Photo Courtesy of: The Phoenix and Facebook Never Again Movement

Those participating in the walk out were instructed to walk out of class on March 14 at 10 am. Most schools participating have found support in their administration. Woodstock High School for example, has given their full support in its students wishing to express their freedom and right to of peaceful protest within the first amendment.

“The walkout was a great way to express our rights, and as students to feel like we were heard by those who hold power in society. With the large numbers that participated, it way a great demonstration of beliefs and our feelings about this subject. It is a good feeling to feel like you are heard, especially at such a young age and about such a serious topic. I feel safe because of how the school has come out and said that they support the students on their decision to walkout, and because of the administration and police that will be posted around the flag pole area making sure we are all safe.” (Zachary Norman, Junior)

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Students running to remember their fallen coach in the Parkland shooting. Photo Gathered By: Emily Hailstone Photo Courtesy of: The Phoenix and Facebook Never Again Movement

Among their demand, participants were walking in hopes that Congress would take more serious steps in banning assault weapons, requiring universal background checks before gun sales, and passing a gun violence restraining order law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior. “The purpose of this walkout was not only to honor the 17 victims of Parkland. It’s also to spread the message of the survivors. We need change, nobody should have to live through something like that again.” (Doris McBride, Sophomore)

The walkout was organized primarily by young people working with Women’s March Youth Empower. Those behind the Women’s March also ran the anti-Trump Women’s March demonstrations in January 2017. It was not a protest of public schools directly, but more of a call to action of administrators to amplify their voices in a call for change. The walkout invites anyone within the school system though- students, teachers, administrators, etc. “I feel that we have been given a great opportunity to express our freedom of speech and that everyone should take it if you agree with what we are saying.” (Lauren Descantis, Freshman)

The Women’s March website writes “Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a #NationalSchoolWalkout for 17 minutes at 10am across every time zone on March 14, 2018 to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods. We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship. Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school. Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day. We are not safe at school. We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that address the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.”

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Parkland survivors fighting for changes in gun control and talking with legislators. Photos gathered by: Emily Hailstone Photo credit: The Phoenix and Facebook Never Again Movement

Students could face disciplinary action if they joined the walkout without the permission of school administrators. Schools have threatened to slap students with unexcused absences, docked grades or suspensions if they choose to join the walkout. Some school districts that originally took that stance have since backed off and have tried to compromise with the students who chose to participate. While students do have a First Amendment right to protest, those whose school’s forbid participation in the walkout could still legitimately face consequences. However, the consequences should not be worse than if a student were just simply skipping school that day.

 

 

 

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