Students and administrators organize non-political walkout as tribute to victims of Florida shooting.
By Sana Gupta
One month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that claimed the lives of 17 individuals, schools across the country participated in school walkouts on March 14 at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes as a tribute to those who lost their lives, and to rally for gun control.“I don’t think that the school is really politically engaged, and I wanted it to be an opportunity for students who wanted to be a part of this, and to raise awareness for the issue,” said junior Nahisha Jackson, who led organization efforts for the event here at ELHS. “I see a lot of myself in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, and I think that they’re really powerful and what they’re doing is important work. I wanted to take that fuel and passion that they have and exude it into my community,” added Jackson.
The event was planned by students from different groups across the school that ended up coming together.
“The walkout here was great because it was really inclusive, and even students who don’t support the agenda it promoted could participate,” said senior Ashley Brown.
Many students who participated agree that it was a powerful way to pay respect to the students and teachers who lost their lives.
“The walkout was very successful in honoring the lives of those who died and was a perfect way to protest gun violence without making it overly political. The fact that each name that was called had a summary of that person’s life was great, because it made them more than just names… Something needs to change, and I think the walkout was the first step towards that change,” said senior Dakota Redfearn.
However, some students expressed discontent with the execution of the walkout.
“I’m disappointed in the student body because there were a lot of people complaining about the cold, saying ‘when is this going to be over,’ and laughing during the walkout, but I’m really glad the walkout happened,” said junior Maddi Buckingham.
While students participated in the main planning of the walkout, the administration stated that it must remain non-political, to the discontent of students who feel passionately about gun control.
“I think my biggest problem with the concept of the walkout was that we were told not to make it political because this issue is nothing but political. We’re going to have some town halls and discussions about gun control because it’s important that we, as students, don’t let the momentum from this event just fizzle out,” said Jackson.
Even though the ELHS walkout was neutral on gun control, students and teachers see this as an opportunity to encourage teenagers to fight for what they believe in.
“I understand that students are upset about the non-political aspect of it, but if they feel strongly about it, they should have been at the meeting to help plan, or they should attend the town halls here at our school or rallies across the state,” said physical education and health teacher Jen Carney-Brush.
“I think that it’s great that students who aren’t even old enough to vote yet have a place and opportunity to share what they think should be done because it’s policy that affects them. No matter which side you’re on in this argument, fight for your passions, and if you want to make your voice heard, make it heard, because you have every right to do that,” said Brown.