Together We Are Strong

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, the students affected by this tragedy have used their voice to try and get the attention of the government to stage a walkout. They went to Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and any other form of social media they could post on, to get the message to their congressmen and women, some kind of anti-gun law needs to happen.

As Wakefield students, we hugely outnumber the staff in our school, just like most students do. A unified walkout can show how much we care about keeping our schools safe. This isn’t about wanting to end homework, this is about wanting to live.

Taken from @jhiranprueck

On February 21st, exactly one week after the Parkland shooting, Wakefield students and staff participated in a walkout to end gun violence. This was a time to come together as a community and not only stand with our fellow high school students around the country, but also to build each other back up. Many of us were shocked when we first heard about the shooting, but that shock quickly turned into fear. This is happening in high schools? Could it happen here? It seemed like all of us had these thoughts in our heads.

Taken from @jhiranprueck

The walkout was a way to show that even though we are all scared, we are here for each other. The Young Democrats and Equal Club gave great inspirational speeches about how much we need change so this never happens again. Seeing everyone come together and knowing we had each other’s backs is one of the many reasons our Wakefield community is so amazing.

A few hours before the walkout, our administration made the announcement that, although walkouts are not technically permitted in the student handbook as a form of protest, that they would allow the walkouts to happen and all absences would be excused if we returned to class afterward. Not all schools were allowing their students to participate in this walkout and the fact that we have an administration that wants to support us is incredible.

However, some feel that it defeated the purpose of the walkout. Yes, we were all out there in an act of solidarity with the Douglas High School students, but the point of a walkout is to cause a disturbance so it is brought to the attention of the government.

This walkout became less of a walkout and more of a gun reform pep rally. We were told where, how, and when to protest by the adults in our school. That’s not a protest. Maybe the answer isn’t a walkout, maybe there is another form of protest we need to do to cause some disruption and call attention to an actual fight for our lives. For now, we learned from that rally, and hopefully, we can do better next time.

Here are some more events you can join:

There will be a Candlelight Vigil at the Shirlington Library tonight, February 23rd, at 6pm. A few people will speak and then we will walk over to the I-395 overpass. Bring candles if you can, there will also be candles provided for those who don’t have one. This is not an anti-gun rally, this is a time to mourn the loss of the staff and students who were killed in Parkland. Come join the community in support of Douglas High School.

The #ENOUGH School Walkout is planned for March 14th at 10 am. The walkout will last for 17 minutes to remember the 17 people killed in the shooting. This walkout is more of a memorial in remembrance of the fallen. However, the pain felt after these deaths are being used to call for change. Students at Douglas High School are not asking for your thoughts and prayers, but rather for new policy and change. A walkout will not be enough on its own, but it’s a start.

The March for Our Lives is scheduled for March 24th. We are fortunate enough to live close to Washington DC where the biggest march is being planned right now. While details are not set yet, the march is happening. Check out the website here to sign up, FAQ, the mission statement and lots more.

The National School Walkout will be on April 20th. This is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine high school shooting. This walkout is targeted primarily targeted at high schools since both Columbine and Parkland shootings were at high schools. This is one of the last walkouts that is nationally being proposed right now, so if there is still no change from our government then this should include every person who is available.

If every single student in every state walked out of school and refused to come back until there was change, our government would have to act. Now, we can’t force everyone to leave, and going to every school to promote this cause would be impossible. But we can do it ourselves and lead by example.

We don’t realize that our voice on social media is incredibly influential. With just one tweet, snap, or post, we could reach hundreds, if not thousands of people all around the country. With every retweet or share, a whole new group of people is being exposed to this information. So go to your social media and tweet, snap, or post about these marches and walkouts. Because together, we are strong, and we have a voice.