On Wednesday the 14th at 10:00, a group of students stood up and walked out of my classroom. There were too many of them for it to just be a coincidence. As it turns out, there was a national school walkout that day to mark one month since the Parkland mass shooting and advocate for better gun control laws.
On Valentine’s day, one month ago, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz walked into his former High School, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida. He killed 17 people and with a .233-caliber AR-15 rifle. He is still alive and has been indicted for 17 counts of premeditated murder in the first degree and 17 counts of attempted murder in the first degree.
Over 3,000 different schools participated in the walkout according to the EMPOWER website, a branch of the Women’s March which organized the walkout. Lasting 17 minutes, one minute for each victim, the walkout brought the attention of the nation and each school community to the importance of gun control for students. For many students, this was their first political demonstration. Whether it was out of respect for the deceased or love for their fellow students, the walkout brought into the light one of the darkest parts of modern America, school shootings.
As the students left my classroom, I was reminded of the devastating effects of a school shooting. The rest of class wasn’t the same with a few of the students gone. It gave me a tiny glimpse of what it would be like to lose a fellow peer or friend permanently.
Their evacuation from the classroom echoed the evacuation after a school shooting with everyone leaving their belongings and just trying to get as far away from the school as possible. However, instead of running from danger like in a real shooting, they were walking towards the safety of themselves and others so that no one would have to run away from a school shooter. They were walking into justice.