Guilford High School walks out to advocate for safer schools

This story received the Best in Show Award, Kettle Moraine Press Association, October 2018


Gun violence has been an issue in America for centuries, but when the issue hits closer to home, people realize that it’s time to advocate for change. Infamous school shootings such as Columbine, Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook, and Parkland High are widely publicized and eternally referenced as American tragedies, and yet they have instituted no change. Approximately 200 Guilford students, along with students across the nation, rallied together on March 14th to advocate for safer schools and demand change.

Students in our community coming together to be a part of a nationwide movement speaks volumes about the determination of our generation. There were a variety of reasons behind the walkout, and each student participated for his or her own reasons, but what was important was that everyone joined in unison for one cause: safer schools. No matter what kind of change you support, one thing we can all agree on is that change is needed. No parent should send their child off to school not knowing if that will be their final goodbye. Students shouldn’t have to walk through the doors of their school building wondering if that’s the last time they will do so. It’s time to put down the weapons that are laced with gunpowder and use our voices as ammunition.

Gun control seems to be a national argument that continuously moves in circles, creating an everlasting setback to any kind of transformation. While stricter gun laws would prevent civilians from obtaining firearms, it wouldn’t prevent criminals from purchasing them illegally, nor would it prevent people who already own firearms from using them. However, if we do nothing and continue with things as they are, then what is going to change? If not by changing legislation, how are we going to make progress? This is where walking out comes into play.

This issue is more than what it has been misconstrued to be. It’s more than the Second Amendment, it’s more than exposing the NRA, it’s more than just guns. It’s about innocent lives being taken, safety in public places, and a nation that’s supposed to be driven by justice. The students of RPS 205 recognize the recurring situation for what it is: unacceptable. The movement was much more than just seventeen minutes. It was time spent making posters, preparing speeches, spreading the word, remembering and grieving, and a lot of time cultivating courage and bravery. The walkout was so much more than students seeking attention. It was a beautifully constructed platform for transformation, and was nothing short of admirable.

We cannot continue to sit back and watch the world unfold in this direction. There comes a point in time where enough is enough, and that point is too far gone. It is time to come together and stand up for what’s right. For too long, we have desensitized ourselves from the evils taking place in the world, and that’s to be expected when everything on the news is gut-wrenching. But who are we to just accept that this is the way the world works? By advocating for change, we can create a better future for ourselves, our children, and generations to come.

Parents are losing children. Students are losing friends. Children are losing lives. And us? We are losing patience. We will continue to use our voices to speak out for the change we need to see—as a community, as a society, as a nation—because the hundreds of innocent people killed in school shootings can’t do so.