Students Make Change

Carrie Zhang, Reporter

February 14, 2018 was Valentine’s Day, a day that was supposed to be about spreading love and kindness. Instead, it became a day of tragedies. Nikolas Cruz went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and killed 17 people, while injuring 17 more: Alyssa Alhadeff, 14; Chris Hixon, 49; Meadow Pollack, 18.; Scott Biegel, 35; Luke Hoyer,15; Helena Ramsay, 17; Martin Duque, 14; Nicholas Dworet, 17; Aaron Feis, 37; Jaime Guttenberg, 14; Cara Loughran, 14; Gina Montalto, 14; Alex Schacter, 14; Carmen Schentrup, 16; Peter Wang, 15; Joaquin Oliver, 17; Alaina Petty, 14.

On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, a month after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March, initiated walkouts at schools and universities to honor the lives of those killed. At the same time, another important goal of the walkouts was to push lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws. Participants in the walkouts, as stated on CNN, want Congress “to ban assault weapons, require universal background checks before gun sales, and pass a gun violence restraining order law that would allow courts to disarm people who display warning signs of violent behavior.”
At 10 am local time, students left their classes for 17 minutes to honor the seventeen victims that had been killed at Stoneman Douglas.

Many Burroughs students wanted to see the changes that thousands of other students were fighting for. At the same time, there had to be a balance between the educational process, a student’s rights to activism, and recognition in the different political views of all students.

In the end, a group of students from all grade levels organized a day to commemorate those who had died, while also giving students the chance to take action. In assembly, slips of paper containing pieces of information about a victim of a school shooting were placed on the seats. Those who wanted to participate in honoring all victims of the shootings gathered in the Quad. The student organizers read biographies of each of the victims of the Stoneman Douglas shooting at the beginning of each minute with the goal of recognizing that these were not just names, but people who had lives, who had family and friends, who had hopes and dreams. Throughout the day in one of the conference rooms, laptops were set up where students could register to vote. Students were also given the opportunity to contact their state representatives to voice their opinions on gun laws.

The movement has not stopped there. On April 20, the anniversary, there was a National School Walkout, Lane Murdock, age 16, along with three classmates from Ridgefield High School in Connecticut, organized the event. The April 20 walkout held an important difference from the one that occurred a month before. Instead of lasting seventeen minutes, the protest lasted from 10 am until the end of the school day. Murdock states, “This is a problem that needs to be addressed longer than 17 minutes,” and remarks that the people in our country have grown too accustomed to school shootings.

Grant Yaun, age 17, one of the other leaders with Murdock, states that “We’re not going to be silenced or ignored.” He hopes these walkouts empower students across the country to push for common sense gun reform. “This walkout isn’t the end—it’s kind of a start, actually.”