Walking out and standing strong:

School walkouts matter

by Caleb McCullough | Class of 2018 | April 30, 2018

   April 20, 2018, marked 19 years since the deadly shooting in Columbine, Colorado. On that day, thousands of students across the nation took to the streets to advocate for stricter gun laws. It was the second major school walkout in two months, a powerful demonstration that showed, yet again, that this movement is not going anywhere.

 

   Opponents of these protesters give the argument that school shootings are not more common now than they have been in the past. And while this is technically true, it is important to look at the specific incidents in the past 19 years to understand the context.

 

   Students today have grown up in the shadow of Columbine. At the time, it was the deadliest shooting since the University of Texas shooting in 1966 and the deadliest one ever to affect a high school. Thirty-three years passed between Texas and Columbine. Thirty-three years without a major school shooting. Many did happen, but they all suffered five or fewer victims. Two generations of school students went through their school career without hearing about a shooting, unless it happened locally. Though tragic, these small instances of violence didn’t make an impact on the nation.

 

   But this generation is different. Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. Parkland. These words strike an instant chord with high school students because we all know them well. We know the twisted feeling in our gut of fear, confusion, anger, sadness all bubbling together when we saw, over and over, the headlines telling us that 17, or 27, or 32 students, just like us,

had been killed in senseless acts of violence.

   Every time one of these shootings happened, we all knew what would come next. Like a carefully practiced routine, the liberals would talk about gun control, the conservatives would talk about the Second Amendment, and two weeks later we would be hearing about a hurricane or a missing plane, locked in the stalemate, no further along than before.

 

   The Parkland shooting changed that. Two months later, we are still seeing demonstrations and pushes for change. High school students have finally realized that we have a voice- that we have the power to change things.

 

   That’s why these walkouts are important. Detractors say that students should stay in school, but the walkouts have been so powerful specifically because they were against the rules. It is the first time in my school experience that students across the nation have come together to show that we are done following the rules and waiting patiently for the adults to change things.

 

   Now let me be clear. I am not specifically advocating that anyone take part in any activity that is against school rules or disrupts the school’s ability to function (as a high school journalist, I legally can’t do that). I am simply saying that these protests are valid. They matter. They’re not just a bunch of entitled kids trying to get out of class. These protests are the most powerful way to bring about lasting change that can prevent another one of those all-to-familiar headlines. It’s time for that change.