On Mar. 14, students all over the country walked out of their schools at 10 a.m., and stayed outside, giving speeches, saying chants, and wielding signs, until 10:17. The specific 17-minute time frame was used to symbolize the 17 students who lost their lives in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, exactly one month before the walkout.
Parkland students have been protesting since the shooting, putting their education on hold while they advocate for gun control rights. Students have been so well spoken that they have even been accused of being crisis actors.
After the shooting, South students began to organize a walkout in support of Parkland. Students were instructed to wear orange and bring signs, many of which were made during a sign making party in the IHS hall, days before the walkout.
On the morning of the march, South students, faculty (who are not legally allowed to show their support, but many of which doned orange clothing), Roosevelt students, community members, and reporters gathered in front of the flagpole. Seniors Maya Corral, Allison Dominguez, Anna Graff, Sasha Marlan-Librett and Jailani Thiaw spoke at the rally, pausing between speeches for a moment of silence to remember the Parkland victims.
Thiaw and Marlan-Librett read the names and ages of the 17 Parkland students killed in the shooting, and Corral and Dominguez delivered speeches.
“Parents should be able to send their kids to school and see them home alive at the end of the day,” Corral said during her speech. “This isn’t an issue of mental health, video games, or domestic violence. This is an issue of our representatives not doing their jobs.”
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has been at the frontline of the gun control debate. Today they tweeted a photo of an AR-15, the weapon of choice of almost every school shooter, along with the quote, “I’ll control my own guns, thank you.” Many are calling out the NRA for posting the insensitive tweet on the national walkout day.
“In the 2016 election cycle, the NRA contributed over $700,000 to congressional candidates,” Dominguez said. “The NRA opposes the following gun control ideas: They oppose raising the minimum age to buy a gun. They oppose expanding background checks. They oppose banning assault weapons and high capacity magazines. They oppose having to register or get a license in order to have a gun. They oppose every attempt at solving the issue of gun violence in America.”
Students booed after each example of opposition, and when Dominguez listed two Oregon representatives who received money from the NRA one student yelled, “Get him out of office!”
The speakers ended by encouraging their peers to register to vote.
“In front of me today is the next generation of activists, of leaders, and most importantly of voters,” Dominguez said.
Corral organized voter information and students to run voter registration tables for the entirety of the day. More than 115 students took voter registration cards and online materials.
Unlike many other walkouts, it seemed that every student was on the same page regarding what solution needs to take place in order to end gun violence.
“The Parkland shooting was the last straw, which is kind of ridiculous because the last straw should have been Sandy Hook,” junior Sarah Parsons said. “I think there is a cultural and political shift now where people are actually starting to listen to students.”
This is just the beginning of student uprising against lack of gun control. A nationwide march is planned for March 24, titled “March for Our Lives.” Another nationwide walkout is occuring on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.
“It’s important that the students aren’t letting the story die,” said junior Jade Pfaefflin. “They’re making the agenda.”
With the relentless passion of students across the nation, the government has a long road ahead of them against the battle of gun control.