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Walkout

Taylor Talcott and Bella Nadler, Opinion Editor and News Editor

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On March 14th, students nationwide participated in walkouts in memoriam of those killed in Parkland, Florida, as well as in protest of gun violence in schools. At our very own Analy High School, a large portion of the student body joined the movement by walking out of classrooms for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. Students, dressed in black in honor of the Parkland victims, gathered by the front entry with hand-made signs, and several individuals made poignant speeches on how guns have affected their lives. Parents and community members rallied on the opposite street, giving their support to the activists. There was a small group of counter protesters that fought against the walkout, but the outstanding majority stood in favor of gun reform and in solidarity with those who have been lost.

At 10 a.m., the students of Analy High School joined the nation in the Parkland Remembrance Walkout. The students flooded out of their classrooms and were immediately met with cheers and applauds. Parents and adults had brought their dogs and supportive signs (some reading “students we support you,” “teen power,” and “this mama is with you, gun control now”) to show support for the walkout participants. While the protesters were met with support by parents, they were also met with a small group of counter-protesters. As soon as the majority of students had conglomerated in the front of the school, speakers – including Abbey Chinn, Gabby Gilbraith, Zoe Tiller, and Ione Dellos – stood on benches and spoke to the attentive audience. The speakers constantly reaffirmed that students were to return to their classes 17 minutes after 10 a.m. And, as promised, at 10:17 a.m. students returned to their classes.

Gun violence is a widespread problem in our nation, and school shootings only scratch the surface. All shootings are a result of the toxic gun culture within our nation, and they pose a significant threat to society. More than 187,000 children have experienced a mass shooting in their school since the 1999 Columbine shooting. Schools are meant to be a safe space dedicated towards education, but as shootings become more and more commonplace, students are beginning to fear for their lives. There has been a notable rise in activism as students refuse to stand complicit in these events – they want to make the changes that legislators have failed to make. Analy student Zoe Tiller described her reason for activism: “I am tired of people taking money over people’s lives. . . tired of guns being chosen over children.” Due to the lack of action by elected officials, students are taking action themselves and finding their voices. Often portrayed as ineffectual and apathetic, teenagers are turning years of tragedies into a platform on which to stand. They are a voice for the voiceless and a force for change for those who need it. School shootings are horrific tragedies nearly unique to the United States, but, through some grassroot organization, students are pushing for concrete change and progress. There is nothing that will ever bring back those we have lost, but advocacy and activism, especially by teens, push us towards a better and safer future.

What next? If you took part in this walkout and are looking to further help the cause, there is more you can do. For the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting on April 20th, there will once again be a national walkout. Another option is to lobby and write congressmen and women in support of gun reform. And, lastly, if you are 16 or 17 and a California citizen, you can pre-register to vote. To find more information visit https://registertovote.ca.gov or http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/pre-register-16-vote-18/ to pre-register today.

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Walkout