For millions of students across the United States, March 14, 2018 will be engraved in their memories as the day when students stood up demanding change and remembrance for their many fellow students that have lost their lives in school shootings. One such protest took place at Alpharetta High School.
1. Madison, 11th grade: "I am not a pawn..."
“Today, I participated in a school-sponsored walkout. I attend Alpharetta High School in Fulton County. I participated as an act of respect for those who lost their lives in Parkland, Florida as a result of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The walkout was completely optional, yet a large majority of the student body participated.
"However, it was regulated by the school, making it seem like some kids were participating to get out of class. It was obvious that some kids were not doing it for the right reasons, and that was a little upsetting. For example, multiple times during the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 victims, people would start talking, and I found that extremely disrespectful. I appreciate the fact the school made sure the walkout was not political and [was] instead for the remembrance of the victims.
"As a student who believes that guns are necessary for society, I was happy the walkout focused on remembrance instead of gun reform. I am not a pawn in some political campaign. Instead, I took part in the walkout as a reminder that we live in a far from perfect world.
There is a reason to protest, and it isn’t up to large news outlets to antagonize teenagers for standing up for what they believe in just because they are young.It sickens me to see these harsh messages being sent to young teenagers. When may not be the leaders of today, but we are the leaders of tomorrow."
2. Emily, 11th grade: "...will no longer stand passive and afraid..."
“One month after the Parkland shooting, no legislation has been passed in regards to gun ownership, background checks or age limits. Since the shooting, more children have lost their lives trying to pursue an education and have gone unnoticed. In order to combat this normalization of murder, many students across the country decided to participate in student-led walkouts. One such occurred at my high school, Alpharetta High School.
"The event was completely optional and allowed by the school. At 10 a.m., when the walkout was supposed to commence, administrators came over the loudspeaker and announced that if we would like to participate, we were then allowed to leave class. Walking up from the trailer that my class... [to] see most of the student body unified in near-freezing temperatures was extremely powerful.
"During the event, for 17 minutes, everyone was silent. Coming into the event, I was uncertain that people would take this seriously or if it was possible for silence to simultaneously fall upon that many teenagers, but for the most of the period, the only sound to be heard was the wind blowing leaves of the trees. Not very often do you see high schoolers being able to stand together and not only collectively state that something in their government needs to change, but gathering to commemorate the lives of 17 people not much different than themselves.
"I know that one walkout is not going to prompt much change in the country because one event is so small, but to have an entire generation, the society of tomorrow, might I add, state that they will no longer stand passive and afraid in their schools showed me while change may take time, it is possible."
3. Megan, 11th grade: "When it was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration..."
“It was so empowering to hear the students give speeches and express their passion for such an important cause and it was amazing that such a large amount of students walked out into one area wearing orange and holding signs advocating for an increase in gun control.
"Unfortunately, many students used this time as an opportunity to skip class or hang out with their friends, which was apparent by the number of students who were texting people, snapchatting, yelling across the crowd to their friend, laughing or simply being disrespectful. Some students even made it clear that they do not support the cause by bringing politics into the situation when it was supposed to be a peaceful demonstration to commemorate the lives of those lost in the Parkland shooting..."
4. Ethan Metcalf, 11th grade: "During the moment of silence..."
“I was standing shoulder to shoulder with people whom I knew very little about, yet together we shared a moment that united all of us as, a single front for change. During the moment of silence, some people broke out in laughter, and others would not stop talking; it felt rather unorganized…I feel like a lot of schools made it a much bigger deal, and we kind of walked out of class for 20 minutes."
5. Kate Saunders, 11th grade: "... I was fully prepared for and would've done it anyways..."
“I was a bit hesitant at first to see how the school would handle this situation, considering students were going to walk out during class. At first, I thought that they would be giving unexcused absences out to the students who did participate in the walkout, which I was fully prepared for and would’ve done it anyways due to the fact that I feel so strongly about stricter gun laws.
"However, they implemented it into the schedule, which I understand why, but at the same time I felt like it kind of defeated the purpose of a 'walkout,' but it ended up working out well. During the protest/remembrance, I thought that they did a very good job of organizing how the whole thing was going to play out.
"I do wish that they listed the 17 students who sadly lost their lives before the 17 minutes of silence so that students could truly think about them. Nonetheless, it was very impactful to see so many students unite for one purpose: to implement gun control [and] to say 'never again.' Too many children & teachers have lost their lives to a circumstance that can be fixed."