National school walk out calls for change

National school walk out calls for change

Students walk out onto the quad to protest gun violence. Credit: Sophie Haber/Chronicle

For the second time this year, students put down their pencils and walked out of their third period classes when the clock struck 10 a.m. to protest gun violence last Friday.

They made their way to the middle of the quad, where they sat silently in honor of the 13 victims of the Columbine shooting exactly 19 years ago that day.

The night before, Dahlia Low ’20 decided to mobilize students via social media at the request of some of her friends. She posted 10 flyers on bulletin boards around campus before rushing to her first period class, hoping to reach students outside of her friend group.

To her surprise, the quad filled with students from every grade.

“Our generation needs to be the one that speaks out and makes a difference,” Low said. “By doing a large demonstration, it shows our government, our parents, our teachers and everyone that we really care about these issues and we don’t want to die in our schools anymore.”

The second National School Walkout aimed not only to honor the victims of the Columbine shooting for a few minutes, but to last the entire day and demand reform, according to CNN.

Even as students around the country walked out in protest of gun violence, another school shooting took place. As students prepared to walk out at Forest High School in Okala, Florida, a student was shot in the ankle, and the alleged shooter was brought into custody, according to the New York Times.

“It really shows how big of an issue gun violence is and how we need to have our voices, because at the end of the day, we are the ones being affected by school shootings,” Emma Sunkin ’19 said. “Just to know that any one of us could be the next victim is heartbreaking and terrifying. So many emotions riled up from it that I think it’s just mind boggling all in all.”

Some students at Harvard-Westlake walked off campus after the moment of silence on the quad and brought the protest to Santa Monica City Hall, where they joined other high school students from across Los Angeles.

At City Hall, student activists spoke out about their personal experiences with gun violence as well as the impact that gun violence has on the Los Angeles community, calling on teens to advocate for change, Sunkin said.

Upper School Student Discipline and Attendance Coordinator Gabriel Preciado said that he only knows of two students who left campus to go to City Hall. Since the walkout took place on the same day as senior ditch day, he cannot discern who left for that reason.

Students who left campus were told they would receive an unexcused absence that will result in a detention, Cami Katz ’19 said. Katz, who left school to protest in front of City Hall, said she decided a detention would be worth the activism.

“Originally, I wasn’t going to go because I expected my mom to tell me that I shouldn’t miss school when something so important was happening, but she immediately responded and just clarified how that discomfort is nothing compared to the victims of gun violence are experiencing,” Katz said. “That really put in to perspective for me.”

The fact that the walkout was not school sanctioned made it even more inspiring, Sunkin said.

“I was hysterically crying the entire time [at the first walkout], but it felt more like a memorial to me than a protest, so I think today was really empowering in the fact that the school wasn’t okay with it,” Sunkin said.

In conjunction with the walkout, Annabelle Zimmer ’20 and Chronicle Staff Writer Amelie Zilber ’20 hosted a bake sale to raise money for Everytown for Gun Safety, which supports people in Congress who push for gun control legislation.

“We were trying to think of another way that we can make an impact,” Zimmer said. “I think that it’s really important that we are showing that this is not just a moment that we want something, but that this is going to be consistent, and we are going to continue to apply pressure to politicians to get things changed.”

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