More than 500 students and staff walked out of class today and participated in a nationwide movement calling for school safety and increased gun control. The protest was held for 17 minutes to remember the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14.
During the protest, students did a lap around campus holding signs and reciting chants in a call for gun control and safer schools.
Students who walked out and returned within 30 minutes were marked tardy, as per district policy, but could not be punished more severely than an everyday tardy, per the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Our safety at school is important. I feel a lot of our officials are not taking that into consideration.” junior Katherine Johnson said.
Sophomore Charlotte Jones, who organized the lap for life, held a megaphone and reminded students to be vocal about their wants for gun control and school safety.
“I organized this, because I believe that our schools can be safer than they are now,” Jones said, “No one has been doing anything to change the safety protocols or policies at the schools, and I believe that they should change. Since adults aren’t doing anything it’s coming down to the kids to say that we want things to be done, and we need it.”
Students carried signs with phrases including “NRA NO WAY,” “WHEN WILL WE STOP BEING YOUR TARGET PRACTICE,” “HOW MANY MORE (with 17 handprints),” and “NO MORE SILENCE END GUN VIOLENCE.”
“I’m tired of seeing students get shot,” senior Bella Tollestrup-Wimbish said, “It’s ridiculous because people say that they want guns to protect themselves when really we all know that most of Americans who are for guns say that it’s as their Second Amendment right because they have fun shooting things.”
Even with CCSD discouraging students to participate in the walkout, students felt it was important to push for change and have their voices heard. After initially stating that students would be punished for participating in the walk, the district later stated that it is at the discretion of the schools and their administration.
“Not allowing students to use their voice when you advocate for students to be a change in the world is a backtrack from what you should be doing,” senior Madison Hotze said. “ If you’re going to advocate for students to change the world then you can’t stop them from doing it.”
Students are also organizing another demonstration on April 20, which marks the 19 year anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting that killed 15 and injured 24.