Students walk out in controversial protest

Ava Mowery, Reporter

Students across the country have taken initiative after the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and have began walking out of class as a protest against gun violence and to honor the victims killed. Protests have spread from school to school and multiple dates have been spread by different organizations. Upcoming dates include March 14  for 17 minutes in remembrance of the 17 students killed in Parkland, and is being planned by Women’s March. National School Walkout is organizing a gun violence protest on April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

A thousand miles away at Big Spring High School, students are very aware of the tragic incident that took place in Parkland and are taking action. “It’s very upsetting,” said Demi Smith, a senior. “I shouldn’t have to be afraid to wake up and go to school every day. We, as students, need to band together for change.” Like Smith, multiple students are voicing their concern and taking a stand. Smith is planning on participating in both protests and hopes it shows administration that students demand action. She believes that it is no longer a time to be passive, but to call upon congress to discuss solutions to this issue. She hopes that students will join the protests and take a stand against violence. Janelle Bier, a sophomore, believes that students should participate if they feel that protesting is the best option, but encourages students to be careful. “I feel like it could be a safety issue for students, but if students really want to protest, they should do it respectfully and respect school rules as well.”

Teachers are aware of the planned protests and are inspired by the students. “I am inspired by students who care about an issue and that they are taking steps to do something about it.” said Lisa Yinger, an English teacher. Yinger referenced a famous court case, Tinker v. Des Moines, and said, “You don’t lose your rights at the schoolhouse gate.” Cory Hoffman, Dean of Students, said he believes it is important to honor the rights of all citizens to safely, peacefully and civilly express what they believe.

Bill August, principal at the high school, had a meeting with student leadership last Thursday where they discussed the logistics of the protest and to plan what it would look like. On March 14, students will not get in trouble for peacefully walking out of class to memorialize the death of Parkland students. During this walkout, the main focus is to remember the lives lost and to support some kind of change so this tragic incident doesn’t happen again. The organizers say that it has no political agenda and only wants to remember those killed. “This is a unique time, where high school students are expressing their opinions in ways that have not been seen in quite some time. The school’s main concerns are student safety, followed closely by student learning. Any potential walkout by students needs to keep both safety and learning in mind so that both are maximized before, during, and after any event.” said August.

An April 20 protest has not been planned completely yet, but ideas are currently being discussed. There is a possibility that guest speakers would come to the school to talk about gun violence and how it has directly affected young lives. More details will be released as the date approaches.