By Alexa Delacruz ’19
Thousands of students from Midwood and all around America walked out of school on March 14 in peaceful protest for gun reform in America.
Our school walkout was organized by students Naomi Giancola ’19 and Madeline Paterna ’19. The walkout took place during fourth period and lasted up to the middle of fifth. Students left school in order to honor those killed in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on February 14 and to speak out against gun violence.
“We both felt that it was extremely important for students to speak out about gun control, as too often our voices are silenced,” said Paterna ’19. “For me it’s also because I started feeling unsafe in my school, and no student should have to choose between their safety and education.”
They organized the walkout by first getting permission from principal Mr. Michael McDonnell. They then created a Midwood Student Walkout page on Facebook and Instagram to spread the word about the event and encourage people to come.
“This shooting affected me and my peers,” said Kiran Siddiqui ’18. “No one could never believe such a tragedy could occur by the hands of someone who is our age, and it was so easy for him to carry it out.”
“What inspired me to do the walkout was that I am just super fed up that children are dying because of things that can be stopped,” said Giancola ’19. “Also that our government isn’t doing anything about guns and the issues surrounding them.”
Everyone participating walked out into the school yard across the street. Teachers were notified not to stop anyone who wished to leave. A group of students read aloud the names of the victims and a short paragraph on each victim, sharing details about their lives and things they liked, such as their favorite show or music artist. The students surrounding the speakers also used the phrase “MIC CHECK” to amplify the speaker’s speech. A paragraph was also read aloud in honor of Courtlin Arrington, one of the most recent victims that passed away at a school shooting in Huffman High School. There was also a moment of silence at the end of the walkout in honor of all the victims.
“I hope that the walkout will raise awareness in school about guns because I feel like we never get to talk about these kinds of issues but they are such a big deal,” Giancola ’19 said. “It involves our safety, and that should always be a big deal. I also hope that this prompts my peers to formulate their own opinions on guns because everyone deserves to have a voice.”
The Women’s March Youth Empower organized the national student walkout for March 14. Their purpose for the walkout was to “protest Congress inaction,” to do more than just announce thoughts and prayers from the massive amount of gun violence across our country. They want Congress to pass better gun control laws to keep people safe at school and other public spaces. They also believe students and staff should have the right to go to school and learn in a safe environment without worrying about being gunned down in their classrooms.
“It’s important for students to walk out because safety inside schools directly affects students,” said Rreze Kadrijaj ’19. “It’s also important to start creating stricter gun laws so Parkland doesn’t happen again.”
Those participating in the student walkouts were encouraged to wear orange, since it’s the color used by many who support gun control. Students made posters, marched, had moments of silences, read speeches or poems, and even distributed orange ribbons for gun violence awareness during their walkouts.
More than 3,100 walkouts were conducted across the country, and over 185,000 students participated in the national walkout, according a Women’s March spokesperson. A map of participating schools on the event’s website showed the walkout went international, with schools in Ireland, Israel and Mexico participating.
“I think it will be effective in the sense that more people in our school will pay attention to what’s happening, said Paterna ’19. “It’s obviously not going to change the mind of Trump, but the point of this walkout is to show respect to the victims of the Parkland shooting.”
The ongoing battle with the National Rifle Association (NRA) over laws that protect citizens from underaged and mentally ill people buying guns is still ongoing. On March 9, Governor Rick Scott of Florida signed into law an array of gun limits, one of which raised age limits on buying guns. Soon after Scott signed the law, the NRA filed a federal lawsuit against it. The outcome of the lawsuit is still unknown.
Midwood did not suspend or punish any student who participated in the walkout. Multiple colleges and universities have already stated they will not reject students who participated in the protests and walkouts.
“I attended the walkout because I want to honor the students and other victims that lost their lives in the Parkland shooting and let everyone know that they will never be forgotten,” said Aime Chau ’19.
A National March called “March For Our Lives” will be taking place on March 24 in Washington D.C, New York City, Chicago, and other cities as well. This march was organized by the students at Marjory Douglas High School, so kids and families can take to the streets to protest for their lives and safety to become a priority and to end the overwhelming amount of mass school shootings.
There will also be another national student walkout on April 20 to honor the victims of the Columbine High School shooting. April 20 will mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, which until Parkland, was the most deadly high school shooting in America.
Dino Jevric ’19 and Hanna Boyko ’19 contributed to this article.