Guns and Roses: National Walkout on March 14th


On March 14th, students across America will walk out of their classrooms at 10:00 a.m. to honor the Parkland victims and promote peace (Photo Courtesy of Pixabay).

Unfortunately, we have all heard of the school shooting that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last month. In response to this tragedy, some high school students are joining forces with the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER organization and walking out of their classes on March 14th for 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims, but Brashier will not be participating.

“As a school official, I can’t support a walkout [at Brashier]. Where we are in our society today, I do think it’s dangerous. I think there are a lot of ways to honor victims of school shootings in the building without resorting to walking out of the building,” says assistant principal Trina Freeman.

This is why our school is planning to host a variety of different activities in order to support the Parkland students and the victims’ families.

“I am one of the people planning the walkout-style activities. When we presented [the walkout] to administration, they didn’t want to do it because it would disrupt class and make students a target, but we are planning other activities that are safer and draw [in] more students” says junior Jake Forstein.

These peaceful protests and actions may hint at a deeper meaning about why some students feel an urge to participate.

“Students are doing [the walkout] because they want their voice to be heard about gun laws. People don’t feel safe,” says junior Alexis McCullough.

In fact, there are some positive responses from teachers in Greenville County for students participating in the walkout.

“We [teachers] should support our students in voicing their opinions because they are the ones being shot. Students have waited so long for adults to do something, and they haven’t, so kids are taking matters into their own hands . . . If 80 to 90 percent of high school students walk out, they are sending us adults a message we need to listen to. We need to take notice; if we ignore [students], that is just wrong because kids don’t have a way to express their political opinion since they can’t vote yet,” says eighth-grade middle school teacher Bryanna Dennewitz.

However, some students may be joining this cause for reasons that are not so honorable and symbolic.

“Your job as a student is to learn, not to voice your political opinion…Students are doing [the walkout] because it’s the cool thing to do. If they wanted to accomplish something, they would be talking to state legislation…[The walkout] will rile up a bunch of people for gun control, but, in the end, it won’t really matter,” says senior Justin Collins.

Gun control is a hotly controversial topic in today’s political realm, and some feel that these weapons should be restricted.

“There should be [stricter gun laws] for a few reasons. The biggest one is that when the Second Amendment was written, people didn’t realize the power guns would have. [Also], the Second Amendment is the least clearly written [amendment], and it gives way to very different interpretations,” says senior James Crowley.

The Second Amendment allows United States citizens to “keep and bear arms”; however, not all believe that guns should be acquired so easily in our country.

“In general, it should be harder to purchase a gun, but the type of gun [that one can get] should be changed. What do you need a semi-automatic to protect yourself for? You can’t even go hunting with that type of gun…[However], a lot of people in politics are funded by the NRA,” says senior Jocelyn Dobson.

The National Rifle Association is an organization that seeks to protect Americans’ Second Amendment civil rights in Congress, but perhaps there is an issue that is often overshadowed by gun control.

“You can have the safest school in the world, and there’s still a way to hurt people. I don’t think we need to militarize schools. We’ve got to get help for those mental people. We need free mental healthcare at the very least,” expresses Dennewitz.

As defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, mental health is “the condition of being sound mentally and emotionally.” When a person’s mental state is disturbed or unhealthy, the condition of the mind is vastly altered.

“They don’t need to raise the minimum age for getting a gun; if you’re crazy, you’re crazy. Look at how our federal ban [on] drugs has worked out. Drugs are being used now more than ever since they were banned. We shouldn’t get rid of guns and make them illegal…When has the government ever listened to teenagers anyway? Stop looking at guns as the problem and start trying to stop mentally unstable people from getting guns,” says senior Jimmy Manos.

Perhaps mental health is actually a deep and complex matter that most of us automatically overlook.

“A speaker from [the] National Alliance on Mental Illness said, ‘Sometimes mental health isn’t something you can see.’ Maybe we don’t understand [mental illness] enough and aren’t as sensitive and accommodating to it. The bottom line is that all of that takes money. If we do want to educate, then where is that money going to come from? Maybe that’s why we can talk about gun control; it’s easier to jump on the bandwagon of something you can see,” says Freeman.

The issue of gun control has long been debated by political organizations, news stations, and politicians, but one question still remains: are students and teachers safe in schools?

“I thought I felt safe at school, but I don’t feel entirely safe [now] because we have too many people coming and going [out of Brashier’s front doors]. It makes me very sad; when I was a kid in high school, people made bomb threats, but nobody ever did anything,” says science teacher Sharon Worthen.

The safety of a school may not always be evident by a front office, door alarms, or tighter security though.

“I feel very safe at school, and part of feeling safe is feeling connected and like you have a positive relationship with your students. A small school sometimes facilitates that connection…for me, preventing situations like what happened in Parkland starts with those positive relationships,” says Freeman.

The walkout on Wednesday, March 14th will be in response to the tragedy in Parkland and could have significant results.

“The walkout will be a beginning. It is the first step of children speaking for themselves using their civil rights. If it makes the news, and the children feel that they are heard, then there will be more steps. They are the future,” says Robin Dennewitz, sister of a middle school teacher.

Although some high schools will not participate in the walkout, there are other various opportunities for students and the community of Greenville to prevent the next mass school shooting in our nation.

“The Women’s March Youth EMPOWER has three Walkouts planned. The first one is a National Walkout in schools on March 14th. The second one is on March 20th, and [it] urges students to leave school and walk to local government offices. Lastly, the third march is March For Our Lives on March 27th in Downtown Greenville,” says Forstein.