On Wednesday, March 14th, students all across the country participated in a National School Walkout intended pay respect to the 17 lives lost during the Parkland Florida School Shooting. After the horrific shooting last month, survivors and supporters proposed that in order to get through to Congress to achieve stricter gun laws, a National School Walkout was the way to go. Individuals explained that the walkout should merely consist of the silence of students who did decide to show their support. However, at Thomas A. Edison High School, like many other schools across the country, the nationwide walkout soon became a memorial and a protest all in one.
Photo Credits: Eashan Nirhoe and Nahomi Vindell
Student’s read the names of all 17 victims following a moment of silence as everyone paid their respects for those who lost their lives on that dreadful day. Students then began to voice their opinion for stronger gun laws as well as what we can do to ensure that we are safe in our environment.
The statements made by students, including Cody Goudeau, were powerful and uplifting. Goudeau said, “I want each and every one of you to know that we are here as a family, we are here as a community to make this the safest place possible. School should not be a place for violence.”
Thomas Edison students marched out of their classes into the streets. More than half of the block was occupied by students, protesting for stronger gun laws. Tears flooded many faces of many students.
There were several students who displayed posters above their head, even a display of the American flag. One poster said “Not One More. Gun Reform” and another poster displayed “Am I Next? Make Schools Safe Again.” The dedication that students put into this walkout was definitely a hair-raising and impressive moment.
The phrase “We Want Change” was chanted multiple times on and off in an attempt to show that students were there to make an impact by adding structure and voice to the event. The walkout ultimately became an even that displayed the message, we will not stop until there is change! Preeti Singh, President of SkillsUSA said that, “When the students talked it was emotional, the chanting was so powerful, there will hopefully be a outcome from this extraordinary action taken by the students.”
We are part of a bigger problem and we are just facing the first of many obstacles toward change.
Many participants did not consider the fact that majority of the school would decide to participate. Some students did take this event as an opportunity to stray away from school grounds, pick up a snack, or just leave completely. Roads were blocked to ensure our safety therefore, there was no way for individuals to leave the school from 168th street, so students took to themselves to leave towards a further form of exit. Multiple students came back at the ending of the 17 minutes with bags filled with snacks from the deli, going to show that we couldn’t convince everyone to support our motive. A handful of students were laughing and being disrespectful by being the complete opposite of silent, taking the time to socialize with their friends or significant other. It was easy to identify who was there for the actual purpose compared to those who were there to take advantage of the 17 minutes without third period.
Mohammed Khan, one of the speakers during the walkout had said, “If any student felt empowered, if any student felt like they had a voice, if any student felt like they were a part of something bigger than themselves, then the overall mission of the walkout was achieved. It’s not just about what can be done, it’s about what is done. You never know who is listening in the audience cause that one person listening from the audience might know a politician and spark a whole entire movement as well.”
This is the generation where change can happen but we need to remember the difference between a protest, a rally, and a walkout as well as how to bring about change the right way. We are the future and we will push for change regardless of what happens.