Students and teachers take a stand: National School Walkout
BY IZZY SALAZAR
March 14, 2018
On March 14th, thousands of students across the country quietly got up from their chairs, left their classrooms, and exited their schools. Together, they stood silently outside for seventeen minutes, both to encourage lawmakers across the country to change gun laws and to honor those killed in school shootings.
EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, organized a national school walkout on March 14th, exactly one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Students and teachers were encouraged to leave school buildings at ten a.m. and stay outside for seventeen moments of silence to honor the seventeen people killed.
Saraya Ashley, senior class president and member of the student council, first heard about the walkout on social media. After being asked by several classmates if DSA was going to take part, she approached Mr. Hawks about the possibility.
“Frankly, I didn’t think that so many people would be willing to do something about this. I jumped at the idea to reach out to Mr. Hawks when I saw DSA student’s reactions,” Ashley explained.
David Hawks, principal, views the walkout as a promising step in the right direction.
“I’m glad that students down there [in Florida] are setting an example. And I hope whatever we do sets the example that we are behind them, and supporting them, we’re behind supporting and making some changes. I don’t know how many more of these it’s going to take to finally get through,” Mr. Hawks said.
Mr. Hawks does not expect the walkout to be the only act of protest performed by DSA students.
“I hope your generation will make a difference on this issue. I hope the generation of students in grades twelve through sixth - I hope all of you who’ve grown up with this happening every year since you’ve been born, I hope that instead of becoming just used to it and desensitized from it, I hope you’ll demand more,” Mr. Hawks said.
Ashley firmly agrees the walkout is the first step for students to make a difference in the country regarding gun safety.
“We have to take it upon ourselves to change this country into a new direction. We can’t sit around and be silent and wait for the legislation of the world to make things ‘better.’
This demonstration of walking out will first show that we are not just standing by idle when others are in agony and that we refuse to be silent about our distaste of the state of our country,” Ashley said.
Mr. Hawks feels that taking action is necessary and should be done respectfully.
“We want to do it right,” Mr. Hawks said. “We want to do something that’s not just a chance to go outside for seventeen minutes, not just a recess break, but something that people think for seventeen minutes about these people because I don’t even want to imagine what it was like in that building.”
During the walkout, poems were read and students were given time to call and write letters to their legislators demanding action.