• Ashley Hare

Nationwide Walkout

I have been trying to find the words to say about the recent shooting that happened in Parkland, Florida but whatever I say will never give it justice. However, the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are using their voices to start a movement.

It’s been over a month since former-student Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15 rifle and killed 17 students and staff members. The survivors of the shooting are coming together to turn their grief into activism.

(Photo from Wikimedia.org)

According to CNN, on Wednesday, March 14 a nationwide walkout will take place for all high school and universities to take part in. The walkout will be both a memorial and protest for the 17 victims who were shot and killed in Parkland, Florida. According to EMPOWER, the group who organized the national protest 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.

But how are local schools in Joliet reacting to this senseless crime? According to Joliet Township High School District 204 (JTHS), students will not be allowed to participate in the nationwide walkout. JTHS stated “Participation in a walkout during school hours is not a student right protected by the First Amendment. JTHS does not condone or support a student walkout. Teachers will record the names of students who leave their supervision. The student absence will be unexcused. Students who are late to their following class will be marked as tardy (unexcused).” However, for 17 minutes, there will be video tributes, conversations, reflections, and students standing united with their classmates in the hallways throughout Joliet Central and Joliet West. On top of the 17 minutes on March 14, JTHS will be participating in a 17-day student led campaign titled #OurJT17.

However, students are still going to walk out of school despite JTHS statement. Students have created Twitter pages to make their voices heard. One student from Joliet Central created a poll stating “Are you participating in the walkout? (please only select yes if you are FOR SURE participating!) trying to get an estimated number of people. RT to help spread the word!” The poll received over 247 votes, with 44% of the students answering yes. Another student from Joliet West stated “The walk-out is so much bigger then JTHS.

It’s more than us individually, we are using our voices for the ones who don’t have one anymore. We are walking for a change and hope the future will be better. It could happen anywhere.” Joliet West twitter page named @JolietWestU directly tweeted USF Encounter and said “Our school has had multiple gun incidents that they HID from us. Where guns were being brought in. I think that the Florida shooting was a wakeup call that we need for more preventive action and my school is against that and I think it’s time that we make a change.”

I believe what the students are doing at Joliet Central, Joliet West, and across the country are brave and encouraging for walking out despite parents, faculty, and public comment. It’s time that teenagers come together to make a change. These students are the next generation of politics. We NEED change and gun control needs to be talked about. Even Barack Obama stated “Young people have helped lead all our great movements. How inspiring to see it again in so many smart, fearless students standing up for their right to be safe; marching and organizing to remake the world as it should be. We've been waiting for you. And we've got your backs.” I have nothing but respect for all these students!

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