March 14, 2018 was a historic day against gun violence in schools across America. The nationwide event encompassing thousands of schools across the nation walked out at 10 a.m. in order to memorialize the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The policy surrounding this event was different at each school, but Alpharetta High School attempted to integrate the event into a unique bell schedule for students' convenience. But, each student has a unique perspective and stance on the Walkout and how to properly honor the victims of the Parkland school shooting.
So, I asked them two questions: What are your thoughts about having this walkout? What effects or changes would you like to see as a result of this event?
Here are the plethora of opinions of the Alpharetta High School student body.
1. Anonymous, Junior
"I think that people standing up for their beliefs and memorializing the victims is extremely honorable. I didn’t participate in the walk out because my views on the issue of gun rights are complicate. However, I did pray for the victims in class during the 17 minutes of silence.
"I would like to see more respect for the causes and lives of young people. Keeping us safe and allowing us to exercise our free speech is so important in school. I know many students are rude and disrespectful to those protesting and many parents are disapproving of this event happening at a school. But honestly, where else are young people supposed to stand up for their beliefs?"
2. Maggie Lee, Senior
"This walkout was an important event to honor the victims of the Douglas school shooting, fight to stop gun violence and advocate for stricter gun control laws. I really appreciated how everybody united to work towards both of those goals. I am glad that Fulton County is trying to be supportive of and accommodating for students who wish to express their beliefs, and that students are doing that by participating in the walkout. Overall, I think this walkout was a success and shed some light on gun violence, a major issue that impacts students and other civilians in our society.
"I hope this national school walkout gained enough media attention to even slightly influence the way that citizens and politicians view gun control and gun violence. During times like these, some people may feel like they have no say in legislation that impacts them, so I hope students feel empowered by participating in this walkout. After this event, I would like to see more people fighting for stricter gun control laws, more students registering to vote for what they believe in, and more politicians pushing for legislation to stop gun violence."
3. Safi Haider, Senior
"I completely respect the students who walkout AND those who choose not to. 2nd amendment rights are a polarizing issue, but they cannot be discussed when both sides are unable to have a calm discussion.
"However, I believe that scheduling the walkout like the school did turn it into an assembly rather than a demonstration. Ideally, I would like to see legislators take steps to ensure that schools are safer, be it through mental health programs or gun control. Although this is unlikely, I would be satisfied if officials at least recognize that students are willing to take actions to support their cause. In other words, I want the government to see that our generation does more than "just complain and do nothing."
4. Jennifer Near, Senior
"I’m so glad this walkout was able to happen and that we have so much student participation and support. Having many students come together to show support for Parkland and demonstrate a need for Congress to take action is amazing and I believe it truly represents how well our students are informed and willing to stand up for their beliefs. However, I do think that no matter what we tell them, the administration is portraying it as just a memorial and not as a stance against the inaction of the government, and because of that, I think both the school and the some of the students may have the wrong idea.
"I understand the school isn’t supposed to take a political stance, but the students should be allowed to do so in a peaceful manner. Above all else, though, I’m really grateful to the administrators who have been extremely helpful in helping to organize the walkout and I’m happy to see so many students supporting the cause.
"As a result of the walkout, I would really like to see Congress take action about gun reform after the tragedies that have happened both in schools and off of campuses. Personally, I believe the the restrictions surrounding getting a gun should be stricter, but any action Congress takes to prevent future school shootings will be a welcome change. Students should not have to go to school fearing for their lives.
"Also, I am hopeful that this walkout will spark more students across the country to get involved in civic and government issues because I have seen firsthand how many students think they don’t have a say in the government, and they need to be aware of how they can get involved (such as in protests like this walkout) and exercise their rights as citizens."
5. Ellen Zhang, Senior
"The walkout is a way for us to physically show that we care and that we will stand out and do things that some adults and Congress aren't willing to do. If we don't say anything, then we will just be letting others speak for us. We have voices too and we are the ones being affected the most. If the adults in Congress won't do the most logical thing to keep us safe, their children and our country's children safe, then we are forced to grow up faster to do what they couldn't do for us. This is why we walk out.
"The walk out is for advocating for stricter gun control. Schools are banning backpacks, installing security cameras and setting up security checkpoints because they couldn't prevent teenagers and those who wish to do harm from acquiring weapons. This is backwards.
"Are we protecting guns from people or are we protecting people from guns? There is no debate on which way it should be. There's no use pretending that pro-gun-control is anti-democratic or whatever other reason people come up with because democracy should be for the people and by the people. When the people are endangered, those who oppose measures to rectify that are the ones who are anti-democratic. Protect people, not guns."
6. Becca Boyd, Senior
"This is a really great way for students to show the world that we aren't standing down until change is made. I want to see Congress in EVERY state making steps towards tighter gun restrictions. People argue that the people who really want a gun will still get one. It still shouldn't be as easy as it."
7. Raeed Zaman, Senior
"I think the walkout is a small but necessary step towards the peace that we all want. Although it may seem as if it’s political significance is minimal, it’s still a baby step that will exemplify the cause. However, there is a common misconception about the purpose of the walkout. People seem to look over the idea of remembering and honoring the people who passed and politicizing the event.
"One change I would like to see as a result of this event is unity. Because of the way politics works in this country, social issues all end up being politicized. Once something is politicized, we stop listening to each other and conform to the ideologies of the party we affiliate to. So instead of uniting to fix the problem together, we are dividing and arguing about who’s right and who’s wrong.
"I hope that this walkout will teach children, adults, and politicians the fact that we all have similar goals but different ways to approach them. I hope that we can find a way to come to a middle ground by reaching out to people who have different viewpoints than us and looking for middle ground rather than shutting those people out."
8. Kaavya Gudapati, Senior
"I believe this walkout was effective in honoring the 17 lives that were taken. We have a long route ahead of us for change to occur, but this was a step in the right direction.
"I hope that we can continue to come together as students and as friends to stand strong in these times and continue to push for change in regards to access to guns. I don't think there's a need to ban guns entirely, but I believe there should be certain restrictions regarding who has access to what type of guns, especially assault rifles."
9. Eric Traugott, Junior
"I thought it was successful in remembering and honoring the lives of the kids that were lost. I felt like some people tried to turn it into a gun control protest which was disappointing but overall it was great and caused no trouble. I think a change I'd like is for people to actually honor the lives of the kids lost instead of trying to use them to push their political agendas to fight for gun control."
10. Maia Gibson, Senior
"For me, I want a way for students who will soon be in the position to vote and shape the appearance of our representatives in government to speak up for something that effects them deeply. Because these officials don’t have to walk the halls everyday and fear a mass shooting, it is important that those who do have these fears explain their concerns and receiving aid in eliminating them.
"The walkout is meant to highlight this with the basic message that no matter how we get to this point- whether it be gun control, school safety, mental healthy education, etc — we do SOMETHING to stop these shootings.I wanted our school to have the chance to be a part of the national movement and hopefully because of the participation of so many students and schools it can really influence our representatives to finally do something and to realize that our opinions are relevant especially considering it could be us voting them out of office."
11. Megha Vemuri, Freshman
"Currently, my thoughts about the walkout in general are backed up by strong feelings. The point of the walkout is to show that we as students have had enough. School is supposed to be a safe environment, and there are shootings left and right due to lack of proper gun control. The best way to effectively create change is to create awareness about the topic, and that’s what the walkout will do.
"There’s really no way to properly explain what the walkout is supposed to represent and do, as its purpose has a pretty wide definition depending on who you ask. Personally, I’m hoping that it won’t be as easy as it is now for people to acquire guns. I know and understand that banning guns all together will have some extreme consequences, and guns can be used to save lives too, but looking at this case and many others, guns are too easy to get.
"Many people in Congress are holding back on creating legislation for gun control because they’re getting tons of campaign money and other financial support from the NRA. This isn’t okay, and as a result of pressure through social media, students have been able to force many private business and companies to get rid of their discounts and deals with the NRA. The next step is doing the same with Congresspeople, which is what I personally think we should attempt to achieve with this walkout."
12. Tara Varadarajan, Senior
"I think that the walkout was a great way for students to have their voices heard. Since so many students in not only Alpharetta but other schools participated as well, it really sent a strong message about how all of us feel regarding our personal safety at school. Because of the walkout, I would like to see more action from our politicians to facilitate stricter gun control, particularly to make it more difficult anyone to buy semi-automatic weapons."
13. Shreya Ravichandran, Sophomore
"I believe this walkout had an underlying great message of expanding awareness about gun control in schools. I didn’t do the walkout personally because of the option to do the silence inside and because of the way many people used the walkout to their advantage (by speaking during the 17 minutes of silence or skipping class). After seeing the unity that this brought to much of the student body, it warmed my heart.
"People who didn’t know each other could still be seen in pictures and videos rallying together to fight for what they felt was right. Many people say our generation has immense power in our hands to make a voice and shape our future, and that is what the walkout and silence did.
"I definitely do want to see stricter gun control policies. Oftentimes, politics is so tricky to walk around without hurting someone that most people tend to avoid confronting these topics. I have generally felt open to standing up for what I feel, and like the majority of people who went outside during the walkout, I do believe there need to be stricter gun laws.
"If children dying in schools isn’t enough to sway Congress into changing what was placed in the Constitution hundreds of years ago, then I absolutely do not know what is. Lives are at stake and will continue to be as long as this country doesn’t bat an eyelash in the direction of what will keep children safe."
14. Anonymous, Junior
"My thoughts about having this walkout were that it was about time. Throughout the last several years, school shootings have occurred time and time again. Why? Its because significant change has not been made. This walkout, led by students across America, was a way to bring awareness to this issue so that change can occur.
"This walkout gives me hope and this hope is what I and other people need in order to truly make a change in their community -the hope that their actions will contribute to the greater good. Overall, I feel grateful to have this experience. I'm hopeful for changes in gun laws. I hope to see people unite and find a solution to this tough problem."
Despite walkouts and protests to raise awareness for school shootings and other forms of gun violence, there are still acts of gun violence being committed everyday. To make a difference, big or small, please write to your local Congresspeople and voice your opinion.