Students fight for “never again” in nationwide walkouts

David Eskichyan

Three months into 2018 and 12 school shootings later, students across the nation have taken matters into their own hands and organized three marches, the first one on March 14, to bring attention to the need for stricter gun control laws.

On Wednesday, one month after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, students all over the nation will walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. across each time zone. The #Enough National School Walkout will last for 17 minutes, a minute dedicated for each innocent life lost during the shooting. Participants are encouraged to wear orange, a color commonly by those who support more gun regulations.

Students at Daniel Pearl Magnet High School who plan to participate in the national walkout on March 14 will not be penalized for walking out, as long as students’ actions are not disruptive, as Principal Deb Smith has the right to discipline any students if they are being disruptive.  Disciplinary actions will be handled by a case by case basis according to district policy.

“I would participate although many people say it won’t make a difference because I feel like if we’re all united, we’ll be able to change at least something,” junior Mariana Sifuentes said.

Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland on Feb. 14 where 17 students and staff were killed by a former student, teens across the country feel obligated to stand up and fight for their safety in schools, concerned that their schools may be next. Several survivors of the Douglas High School shooting have used social media as a way to advocate their motto of “never again” and call for action in a community where they feel adults have failed them.

“I agree with this because a lot of the stuff that happens at schools shouldn’t be happening at schools,” freshman Ariel Dabila said. “I want to do this to support everyone to not shoot schools. I want to save kids from getting shot or bullied or fighting.”

After various failed attempts for stricter gun-control laws, students are using their First Amendment rights as an opportunity to advocate for stricter gun control laws and more mental health resources for those in need.

“I think that adults in our country have really put young students down,” Smith said. “People who are in the position to make change have put them down and it’s a disappointment to see that they have let us all down and I am very supportive for students to step up and say we’ve had enough and they’re demanding to take action to stop this.”

On March 24, students from Parkland with support from national organizations have planned a march in Washington, D.C. to call for school safety and gun control. Similar rallies will take place around the country, too. In remembrance and on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine School Shooting, #NationalSchoolWalkout will take place on April 20 and high school students are encouraged to walk out at 10 a.m. until the end of the school day. The Columbine High School massacre occurred on April 20, 1999, leaving 15 dead and was seen as the first mass school shooting until the Parkland shooting.

We, as a school, are prepared to support students voice that students have the right to have their voices heard and have the right to free speech,” Smith said.

In hopes of being heard, some teachers are supportive of students walking out, and some teachers plan to join students, although district policy limits teachers on their rights to walkout and protest.

“I would support students by walking out, but I can’t by contract,” Spanish teacher Glenda Hurtado said. “I would like to, but by contract they’re only allowing me five minutes or else I don’t get paid.”

Organizers of the event have put up petitions around various location around campus for students who are interested in participating in the walkout.

“Enough is enough,” sophomore Alyanna Ahorro said. “What if our school was next? I am 100 percent in support of the walkouts and I would definitely participate. It’s empowering that we’re finally taking a stand for what we think is right.”