Why This Walkout Matters

Why This Walkout Matters

A conversation has begun - and it is about more than just gun control.
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Today, Wednesday, March 14th, 2018, at 10:00 a.m., a nation of students walked out of their classes and out of their schools, intending to protest the insecurity across the country as school shooting after school shooting claims the lives of their innocent victims. Thousands participated everywhere from New York to Washington and, yes, even here in the south.

I cried real tears today when I saw the stream of people walking on to the field. For weeks we orchestrated and compromised with county and school administration to be able to have this event, to speak up and have our voices join the chorus of our generation as it yelled its frustration this morning. The county school system had finally changed its view on the protest and allowed it to occur penalty-free and, so, here we were. Here was a solid percentage of my school on the field, standing in the freezing, windy cold morning, huddled in solidarity together. The tears budded in my eyes as I recorded a video for Snapchat, and they fell as the chorus began singing a song of peace, hope and remembrance for those lost in the Stoneman Douglas massacre, many of whom had friends at Johns Creek.

Because this was more than just twenty minutes without class or a project blossoming. This was more than just seeing people agreeing with you or supporting you, and this was more than just a gathering of people. This was the mobilization of a generation, the call from more than just the politically extreme members for the government to do something! Please! Today, I watched my peers risk zeros on minor assessments and social alienation to freeze in the stadium for seventeen minutes because this was finally something that they cared about. Now, they will raise their voices. Now, finally, they understand that the current complacency is helping the system to fail them - fail us - as students.

I listened to radio shows and read plenty of Facebook articles in anticipation of this event, interested in seeing how the nation would react. Many parents expressed their support; universities promised not to consider a disciplinary action against applicants or future students if it came as a result of this demonstration of the first amendment; friends encouraged other friends to participate. Many teachers, even if inherently against the ideas being advocated for, presented the walkout as a teaching moment, a chance to see the First Amendment or even Tinker v. Des Moines in practice, and administrations across the country placed parameters around yet permitted this expressive action.

Yet many did not. And their criticisms, overwhelmingly, were that this walkout did not accomplish anything concrete. Did not do anything. Resolve anything.

But is it true that this protest could have meant nothing? To believe so is to be naive and clueless. For many high school students, this was the first time that they had raised their voice to be a political participant - a trait essential to maintaining democracy - and the walkout provided a peer-supported, organized, peaceful outlet of doing so. Perhaps this could spark a life of political activism or, at the very least, awareness; I sincerely hope so.

And, of course, more than even the lessons taught to the students, the empowerment and the involvement that they saw, there is the clear message to the outside. The message that hopes and prayers have a place, but action to save our students has a larger place. That it is not a regional fight anymore than it is racially biased or gender-swayed. Most importantly, that our generation works together. Politicians are public servants and put there to serve and honor the collective desires, requests and attitudes of their constituents, and the generation that walked out today is either barely of voting age or about to be. And, as we saw today, they are ready to stand up for how they feel, especially on an issue that could quite literally be life or death to them.

Be prepared. For every criticism of my generation as "lazy", "self-absorbed", "globally apathetic", "personally unaware because of the time spent on social media" or "entitled and expectant of hand-outs without work", today provided a counter. Today, we stood up and made a nationwide shout for change, a shout for security and protection and control of those forces that would cause us harm. Today, we contributed to the democratic spirit of America and voiced our opinions on issues that we were informed about, aware of and very much passionate about. And it won't end here - students will register to vote. They will write their Congressmen and sign petitions and text RESIST to 50409.

This is the beginning of a conversation. But this conversation is more than just gun control or school safety. It is now about the future of our country - and my generation is perfectly prepared to take up the torch.

I am excited for the future.

Cover Image Credit: Ryo Sato

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Dear Nancy Pelosi, 16-Year-Olds Should Not Be Able To Vote

Because I'm sure every sixteen year old wants to be rushing to the voting booth on their birthday instead of the BMV, anyways.

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Recent politicians such as Nancy Pelosi have put the voting age on the political agenda in the past few weeks. In doing so, some are advocating for the voting age in the United States to be lowered from eighteen to sixteen- Here's why it is ludicrous.

According to a study done by "Circle" regarding voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, 31% of eligible people between the ages of 18 and 29 voted. Thus, nowhere near half of the eligible voters between 18 and 29 actually voted. To anyone who thinks the voting age should be lowered to sixteen, in relevance to the data, it is pointless. If the combination of people who can vote from the legal voting age of eighteen to eleven years later is solely 31%, it is doubtful that many sixteen-year-olds would exercise their right to vote. To go through such a tedious process of amending the Constitution to change the voting age by two years when the evidence doesn't support that many sixteen-year-olds would make use of the new change (assuming it would pass) to vote is idiotic.

The argument can be made that if someone can operate heavy machinery (I.e. drive a car) at sixteen, they should be able to vote. Just because a sixteen-year-old can (in most places) now drive a car and work at a job, does not mean that they should be able to vote. At the age of sixteen, many students have not had fundamental classes such as government or economics to fully understand the political world. Sadly, going into these classes there are students that had mere knowledge of simple political knowledge such as the number of branches of government. Well, there are people above the age of eighteen who are uneducated but they can still vote, so what does it matter if sixteen-year-olds don't know everything about politics and still vote? At least they're voting. Although this is true, it's highly doubtful that someone who is past the age of eighteen, is uninformed about politics, and has to work on election day will care that much to make it to the booths. In contrast, sixteen-year-olds may be excited since it's the first time they can vote, and likely don't have too much of a tight schedule on election day, so they still may vote. The United States does not need people to vote if their votes are going to be uneducated.

But there are some sixteen-year-olds who are educated on issues and want to vote, so that's unfair to them. Well, there are other ways to participate in government besides voting. If a sixteen-year-old feels passionate about something on the political agenda but can't vote, there are other ways of getting involved. They can canvas for politicians whom they agree with, or become active in the notorious "Get Out The Vote" campaign to increase registered voter participation or help register those who already aren't. Best yet, they can politically socialize their peers with political information so that when the time comes for all of them to be eighteen and vote, more eighteen-year-olds will be educated and likely to vote.

If you're a sixteen-year-old and feel hopeless, you're not. As the 2016 election cycle approached, I was seventeen and felt useless because I had no vote. Although voting is arguably one of the easiest ways to participate in politics, it's not the only one. Since the majority of the current young adult population don't exercise their right to vote, helping inform them of how to stay informed and why voting is important, in my eyes is as essential as voting.

Sorry, Speaker Pelosi and all the others who think the voting age should be lowered. I'd rather not have to pay a plethora of taxes in my later years because in 2020 sixteen-year-olds act like sheep and blindly vote for people like Bernie Sanders who support the free college.

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