I will be walking, will you?

Jackie Stupey, staff writer & photographer

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How many lives, how many instances, how many dreams ended by a single shot? How many school shootings have to happen for real effective change will come for us? When will the death toll be too many? When will it be enough?

Parkland, Florida. February 14, 2018, 2:21 p.m.17 injured. 17 taken. Fathers, teachers, brothers, sisters, classmates, friends, instantly gone. Taken in vain by the single shots of a gun in one of the deadliest school massacres in history. The country mourned for the lives taken for a few days. But now we are asking for change.

The students of Stoneman Douglas and of thousands of schools nationwide have started school walkouts and protests to ask for a reform on the laws of gun control. We do not want condolences and prayers anymore, we want active change and a safe environment to learn.

March 14, 2018. 10:00 a.m. 17 minutes. One month later, we mourned and were sad, but now we have the right to be angry and it’s time to show the politicians and leaders of our country what we want and how to make impactful change. A nationwide school walkout is scheduled for this Wednesday. I will be standing with fellow students and schools, not only for the deaths of 17 innocent lives, but for our president to take action. I will be walking out for stronger mental health programs at schools, for troubled minds to be able to get help. I will be walking out for my own safety, my schools safety, my country’s safety. I don’t want to live in a world where death by gun is a constant.

The staff of AHS received an email last week regarding the plans for this Wednesday from the district Superintendent. The email stated that there is no school sanctioned walkout and that if students want to participate they must have a parent signed excused absence form. Which I believe takes away from the idea of a protest. As stated in the first amendment of the constitution, students have the right to freedom of speech, or press, or the right to peacefully assemble, and petition the government for a redress of grievances. Now let me ask, isn’t a peaceful walkout symbolic speech? Isn’t a peaceful walkout a right of mine to peacefully assemble with my peers? Doesn’t a walkout against gun violence seem like a petition to the government asking for a redress of grievances? Aren’t we asking for the government to make a change? By telling me I can’t aren’t you limiting my first amendment rights? I will not be told that I cannot stand for something I believe in. I will not limit myself because the school is afraid of what there reputation will be. I urge you, fellow students and anyone who wants to make an impact on the future, to take a stand with me and the rest of the country. Walkout for peace and safety.

The plan is to leave school for 17 minutes and walk back inside. The power in the protest comes when we walk back in the doors. We will show that we aren’t just teenagers who want to skip out on school, rather that we are demanding change and action. If we want effective change, we must demand it. Condolences and thoughts are not going to cut it, no matter what government position a person holds. We need action, reform, and safety. Enough is enough, the time is now. We are the change we have been waiting for. So take a stand. I will be walking. Will you?

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