I Went To The Walkout At My Old High School And We All Turned Into Activists

I Went To The Walkout At My Old High School And We All Turned Into Activists

From the outside looking in, experiencing a "walkout" 7 months after graduation.
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One month after the deadly shooting at Stoneman Douglas Highschool in Parkland, Florida, students all over the nation walked out of their classrooms in protest of lives lost. After graduating a few short months ago and being on break from college myself, I worried that I would not be able to be a part of this history-making day. Fortunately, I was able to attend the walkout at my previous school and what I witnessed not only encouraged but excited me.

This issue is non-partisan. These walkouts have nothing to do with who you voted for or who you'll vote for in the future. These walkouts are a matter of fact. Students are afraid to go to school. Even during a "lockdown" drill, you can feel the tension and concern make its way through each classroom. Students have lost friends, family members, teachers, coaches, and principals. We have seen time and time again the words "thoughts and prayers go out to ____" in the wake of a tragedy where some child or adult is stripped of their most basic right, their right to life.

As someone who has never had to experience the kind of loss that parallels these horrific events, I wondered how I would feel witnessing the events of Wednesday morning. What I realized, is how relevant this issue is even to those who have not personally suffered. As I stood on the pavement overlooking hundreds of my prior classmates, teachers, and administrators, I realized what a tragedy like this would mean for my school.

I watched as our speaker called for a moment of silence and hundreds of students stayed completely still. You could hear a pin drop in the presence of hundreds. I witnessed tear-filled eyes and shaking hands as students spoke to one another. No phones in hand, no snapchat videos rolling, just conversation. I got to experience and take part in unity and activism in its most powerful form.

Stoneman Douglas has a student body enrollment of 3,158 whereas my school enrolled 2,453 this year. We come from similar towns and have experienced similar things as a school community. My school is not too different from Stoneman Douglas and frankly, not many other schools are either. We are all students that strive for graduation, for college, and to look back on high school as a time of overall happiness or at the very least, typical teenage struggle.

Looking back on the nationwide "walk-outs" myself, I am incredibly proud of the younger generations. I am in awe of their dedication and willingness to take a stand when the adults around them refuse. I spoke to liberal students and conservative students, to outgoing students and quiet students. I spoke to students that could give you every statistic on gun violence in the U.S. and students that felt less passionate about the statistics and more passionate about the lives lost. Never before have students taken a stand and felt called as they were today and I am incredibly optimistic looking forward.

Despite what you may hear on the news there is no perfect answer. In my opinion, these walk-outs were in the name of safety and unity rather than specific policy change. For so long, students young and old have been considered uninterested in the things taking place in our country and for the first time, they are heard. We do not need members of Congress to make a change for us, we are going to make a change for ourselves.

I walked the halls of my old high school with the mentality that I would be an outsider looking in, but today I realize that I still am very much on the inside. To the young activists, don't stop. Stay involved. Remain informed and vote accordingly. Don't assume that just because you saw it on Facebook means it's true. Do not be a mouthpiece for your parent's views. Your friends are behind you, your school is behind you, your family is behind you, your nation is behind you, the world is behind you.

Learn more and register to vote below:

https://www.usa.gov/register-to-vote

Cover Image Credit: Hough High School Guidance

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I Might Have Aborted My Fetus When I Was 18, But Looking Back, I Saved A Child’s Life

It may have been one of the hardest decisions of my life, but I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't had done it.

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Due to recent political strife happening in the world today, I have decided to write on a very touchy, difficult subject for me that only a handful of people truly know.

When I was 18 years old, I had an abortion.

I was fresh out of high school, and deferring college for a year or two — I wanted to get all of my immature fun out so I was prepared to focus and work in the future. I was going through my hardcore party stage, and I had a boyfriend at the time that truly was a work of art (I mean truly).

Needless to say, I was extremely misinformed on sex education, and I never really thought it could happen to me. I actually thought I was invincible to getting pregnant, and it never really registered to me that if I had unprotected sex, I could actually get pregnant (I was 18, I never said I was smart).

I remember being at my desk job and for weeks, I just felt so nauseous and overly tired. I was late for my period, but it never really registered to me something could be wrong besides just getting the flu — it was November, which is the peak of flu season.

The first person I told was my best friend, and she came with me to get three pregnancy tests at Target. The first one came negative, however, the second two came positive.

I truly believe this was when my anxiety disorder started because I haven't been the same ever since.

Growing up in a conservative, Catholic Italian household, teen pregnancy and especially abortion is 150% frowned upon. So when I went to Planned Parenthood and got the actual lab test done that came out positive, I was heartbroken.

I felt like I was stuck between two roads: Follow how I was raised and have the child, or terminate it and ultimately save myself AND the child from a hard future.

My boyfriend at the time and I were beyond not ready. That same week, I found out he had cheated on me with his ex and finances weren't looking so great, and I was starting to go through the hardest depression of my life. Because of our relationship, I had lost so many friends and family, that I was left to decide the fate of both myself and this fetus. I could barely take care of myself — I was drinking, overcoming drug addictions, slightly suicidal and living with a man who didn't love me.

As selfish as you may think this was, I terminated the fetus and had the abortion.

I knew that if I had the child, I would be continuing the cycle in which my family has created. My goal since I was young was to break the cycle and breakaway from the toxicity in how generations of children in my family were raised. If I had this child, I can assure you my life would be far from how it is now.

If I had carried to term, I would have had a six-year old, and God knows where I would've been.

Now, I am fulfilling my future by getting a BA in Politics, Philosophy and Economics, having several student leadership roles, and looking into law schools for the future.

Although it still haunts me, and the thought of having another abortion truly upsets me, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I get asked constantly "Do you think it's just to kill a valuable future of a child?" and my response to that is this:

It's in the hands of the woman. She is giving away her valuable future to an unwanted pregnancy, which then resentment could cause horror to both the child and the woman.

As horrible as it was for me in my personal experience, I would not be where I am today: a strong woman, who had overcome addiction, her partying stage, and ultimately got her life in order. If I would have had the child, I can assure you that I would have followed the footsteps of my own childhood, and the child would not have had an easy life.

Because of this, I saved both my life and the child's life.

And if you don't agree or you dislike this decision, tough stuff because this is my body, my decision, my choice — no one else.

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