As you probably already know, there’s a nationwide walkout being planned on Mar. 14 to support the victims of the Parkland shooting, as well as in protest of the NRA and second amendment. Students everywhere are standing united for stronger gun laws and policies, and for the first time, we’re demanding to be heard. However, my school system is continuously thinking of ways to shut us down. Although hundreds of colleges have spoken in support of the protests, only one in the state of Georgia has agreed to the same terms. As of today, March 7, the current threat hanging over our heads for ‘skipping’ 17 minutes of school is a three-day suspension. Aside from the fact that this is completely ridiculous and unreasonable, most students who plan on staying instate for college are worried about how this would look on their permanent records. After multiple conversations and meetings with other students involved, the overall message that I’m receiving is that people don’t care about the punishment as much as they care about the cause. They are willing to put themselves out there and impact their futures to stand in support with the rest of the nation. On behalf of most students, I have a message for the Cobb County School System: go ahead and suspend us, because we refuse to be silenced.
It seems that almost every student I’ve talked to is angry and appalled by the fact that despite the events of the past month, these systems are still trying to make us quiet. However, everyone seems to have a different reason for marching. Personally, I’m walking out because I’m tired of watching the same cycle happen without change: there’s a mass shooting, everyone’s sending thoughts and prayers and then it’s quiet until the next mass shooting. I’m walking out to remember those who have suffered and lost lives because of the absurd lack of gun laws and I’m walking out to make sure it doesn’t happen again. One of my close friends, Jack LeGrow, also plans on walking out despite consequences. When I asked him why, he responded, “I’m walking out on March 14th, not only in solidarity of the lives lost at MSDHS a month prior, but because this is the first time in decades that high schoolers have been leading a movement that can shape the future.” When talking to Don Ferdinand, a student in Holden, MA, the topic of suspension was brought up. I asked him if he would be willing to get suspended for walking out and his response was strong. He said, “I would wear a suspension like a badge of honor because it would mean that I stood up for what I believed in. I was part of a powerful, impactful, student-lead movement.” He then continued, “This movement does not have to do with the punishment and in fact the prospect of it helps us. It shows that we will still fight even in the face of adversity. We will not quit until we see meaningful change that makes this country safe.” My point with this is that no matter what someone’s personal reasoning or motivation is for walking out may be, we stand as a united front with the same, underlying purpose: to make sure that nothing like the Parkland shooting ever happens again.
As students nationwide stand together, we’re faced with endless backlash and ominous threats from administration and adults trying to keep us quiet and out of politics. They’re struggling to find new and effective ways to punish us, but we refuse to be silenced. No matter what they hit us with, I can loudly say that I would be proud to get suspended peacefully fighting for what I know is right. We may be pushed down for taking a stand, but on behalf of students nationwide, I refuse to stay seated.
Photo: Steve Carrera