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Nationwide Walkouts Spark Need for Reform

"History Has Its Eyes On You"

Gina Quatrino, Production Editor

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On Feb. 14, a massive school shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, leaving 17 students and staff members dead. This massacre replaced the infamous Columbine shooting of 1999, knocking it out of the top 10 worst shootings in modern United States history. Arguably considered the ‘shot heard across the nation,’ the Marjory Stoneman Douglas attack has started a revolution in America, led by its brave and courageous survivors. Students such as Emma González, Cameron Kasky and Alfonso Calderon have all risen from the ashes with clenched fists in the air, ready to make a change. Their determination has given teens all around the country a platform to make a difference in their own societies. One outcome of this movement that has everyone talking, is the widespread planning of school walkouts in America, to highlight the discontent in the safety of the education system. While some believe that walking out of class will not positively impact the movement, they must remember that, regardless, it is sparking a conversation to an issue that is long overdue.

Gun control is a debate that many politicians have danced around, namely because the National Rifle Association (NRA) is a main contributor to most of their political campaigns. However, teenagers who do not have this kind of donation or support have no trouble in stating their opinions. For the first time, students are beginning to have a voice in politics, especially on topics that impact them directly. González became a well known representative for teenagers after going viral with her speech at an anti-gun rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Her words captured the raw emotion that these students were facing after the tragedy at their high school, ending it with a powerful message that emphasized how students are not “too young” to understand how the government works. Kasky is the founder of the movement, #NeverAgain, which began just days after the attack. It started with an idea to have everyone’s grief and outrage in one place, so they could stay connected beyond the separation, but it grew into a movement greater than just a hashtag on social media. The movement stands for stricter background checks for gun buyers, and has stayed nonpartisan. Calderon is known for standing up on stage and describing his perspective during the incident; how he had to text his parents ‘goodbye,’ expecting to not make it out alive. These students’ voices are not ones to be silenced.

The point of staging a walkout is not to encourage teens to skip class, but instead, inspire them to take action and use their voices to make a change. That is where the confusion lies between those who want to participate and those who do not understand it. By walking out of class, it is a protest that goes beyond words. It is the action of not sitting around and waiting for change, but rather, getting up and showing your support for those who have the platform to make a difference. It is a visual representation of the empty seats in class. It is giving a voice to the lives lost, who did not get the chance to broadcast their cries for help. It is standing with them in solidarity and showing that it is not just Parkland that needs fighting for. Organizations such as the Women’s March’s Youth EMPOWER group and the March for Our Lives rally in Washington D.C., have empowered those to take a stand. Still yet to come, the National High School Walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, encourages teenagers everywhere to continue protesting until adjustments are made. School walkouts may seem like a small part to a massive movement, but they are vital in uniting students across the nation with the same drive for change. When one school hurts, we all hurt. The time to take a stand is here and it is not going away. Walk out in the direction to make a difference.

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Nationwide Walkouts Spark Need for Reform