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Students participate in national walkout to protest gun violence

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Students participate in national walkout to protest gun violence

Students participated in a national walkout Friday, April 20 to protest gun violence in schools.

Students participated in a national walkout Friday, April 20 to protest gun violence in schools.

Nina Melishkevich

Students participated in a national walkout Friday, April 20 to protest gun violence in schools.

Nina Melishkevich

Nina Melishkevich

Students participated in a national walkout Friday, April 20 to protest gun violence in schools.

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On Friday, April 20, students across the nation walked out of their classrooms on the nineteenth anniversary of the Columbine shooting in order to protest “congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence,” according to the official National School Walkout website. At ten o’clock in the morning, a group of approximately forty students walked out of Arlington High armed with posters in order to make their voices heard.

“I’m here to protest more stricter laws on gun violence and having less gun violence in schools,” sophomore Connor Beard said. “School is a place of learning, not violence. This is where our children go to learn and become better people for our future so that we don’t have to worry, and if there’s violence in schools, no one will want to come anymore.”

Surrounded by a watchful faculty, students gathered together with homemade signs and a determination to make a change in society.

If they’re not hearing what we’re trying to tell them then we have to take action.”

— Alyasia Johnson, junior

“I’ve had a cousin that died in the Columbine shooting, and I just think that something needs to be done,” junior Alyasia Johnson said. “If they’re not hearing what we’re trying to tell them then we have to take action.”

After 17 minutes, Principal Shaveer Dhalla stood to address the crowd of students.

“This is important. What you’re doing today matters,” he said. “Gun violence and safety in schools is very important to us. But is this the most constructive way to do it? I think we’re better off writing letters, and talking to congressmen and state senators. Make sure that they know your voice.”

Dhalla’s statement caused an outcry from the group, who then proceeded to shout back angry responses to what he had to say.

“In what universe do congressmen listen to kids just because we write a letter?” shouted a student from the crowd.

Dhalla and assistant principal Brent Pfaff attempted to ease the crowd’s anger by reassuring the students that they were on their side.

“You’re not protesting against us, we’re with you,” Pfaff said. “We support the ideas and things that you are saying.”

Dhalla added that he did not think the manner in which the students chose to air their opinions was the most appropriate.

Part of the anger from the students came from being originally told to meet at the front of the school but then to be redirected to the bleachers by the football field.

“If we had been in the front of the school during the 17 minutes that we were originally supposed to be protesting, then we wouldn’t be here right now,” freshman Anna Overton said. “(The administration) said that they were letting us (protest), but they just shoved us in the bleachers where nobody in the entire world can see us, because they clearly don’t agree with our cause, even though they’re saying that they do.”

Students offered their opinions on what changes that they think could be made to the school in order to prevent the occurrence of mass shootings.

“(I think we need) more metal detector tests,” Johnson said. “I don’t think they do that often enough.”

Others held a different position on the situation.

“I don’t feel like there’s much always you can do,” sophomore Alyssa Lopez said . “I feel like the signs aren’t always obvious that something is going to happen, like you can lock down the school like a prison, but that’s not really helping the students feel safer.”

The walkout allowed for students to have the opportunity to raise their voices and make their opinions heard.

“I think (walkouts will help the cause),” Johnson said. “I think if we all came together across the country, I think that the message would come across.”

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Nina Melishkevich, Editor-in-Chief

I'm a senior and this is my third year on The Colt and first year as Editor-in-Chief. I cover a little bit of everything and look forward to publishing...

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