Speaking for the victims

Ari Forcelle

On the day of love, hugs and celebration, many know that seventeen people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Thursday, Feb. 14, 2018 started as a normal school day, as hundreds of students and teachers entered the building. In a few short hours, what many thought was a “safe environment” turned into a tragic crime scene.

As reported by multiple news outlets, a shooter walked on the high school property with an AR-15 assault rifle, strolled through the hallways and classrooms and attempted to kill anyone who crossed his path. He wounded many and stripped seventeen families apart in minutes. This is just one instance that started the domino effect of a controversy that people are living with today.

This is one instance that started a rippling motion, and it is moving from coast to coast and around the world. Families, students and communities are coming together to form peaceful protests. One of the protests will take place on March 14, 2018. The protest will be known as the National School Walkout, aroused by survivors of the Parkland, Florida shooting. The protest will be focusing on pointing out the need of stricter gun laws around the nation for the safety of the students.

The goal of the walkout organized by students is to give Congress a “wake up call” to pass legislation to prevent violence within communities, schools, religious places of worship and homes. The walkout will begin at 10 a.m. and will last seventeen minutes to honor the seventeen victims killed in Parkland, Florida. Alea Wall, senior at Owatonna High School says, “I support the walkouts 100 percent. I believe that whether or not they get the point to congress, the hopes to change the law is important. I also believe that if congress decides not to, it is still important we get the point across. Peaceful protests are a great place to start.”

Some students and parents are worried. If they participate in these protests, they may end up in conflict with the school administration. Unfortunately, for some schools around the nation, it is an undeniably true consequence.  A superintendent for an independent school in Needville, Texas cautioned students with the warning that, if they were to participate in the walk out, it would result in a three day out of school suspension. The American Civil Liberties Union declared that all schools have the right to punish students for the protest, the same way they would as if a student were to skip class. Although that is each school’s decision and there my or may not be a consequence.

Students are allowed to exercise their rights. ”

Principal at Owatonna High School, Mr. Mark Randall says, “Students are allowed to exercise their rights; however, since it is a normal school day, attendance will be taken.” Typically students around the nation will participate in the peaceful protest by exiting the school and sitting down to support the lives lost. Mr. Randall says that  Owatonna High School students are allowed to exercise their rights and do so.Randall said, “We will make sure, if students chose to voice their opinions, that there is a enough space provided.” For those who are wondering, there will not be an academic support for the protest solely because the protest is not a school function set up by the high school. That goes for no matter what is being protested apon.

Enough is enough. ”

Concerns other than in-school punishment for students are perturbed by whether or not walking out will hurt their college admission process. Statements released by more than 250 colleges have confirmed that walking out, even if receiving punitive actions, will be overlooked and will not affect admission circumstances.

Another major question is whether or not teachers will be stepping forward in this peaceful protest motion. A lot of teachers are helping set up the protests, and they plan on walking out with the students. If the school allows it, and pledges no punishment, they are welcome to join. Mr. Walters, a social studies teacher at  Owatonna High School said, “Enough is enough. If our adults that are out of the schools aren’t going to do anything, then maybe it’s time to get ground support from our students who are on the front lines every single day across America. The whole point of the education system is to educate students to become better citizens and what better way to do so than to practice our First Amendment rights, the right to protest and assemble.”  National Events are planned for March 14, March 24 and April 20. These are opportunities to participate in a respectful and meaningful manner.