Middle school students participate in walkout
Posted March 23, 2018 6:17 p.m. EDT
Prairie Village, KS — About half of the students at Indian Hills Middle School participated in a walkout on Thursday morning.
It's just one of the demonstrations planned for this week as students get more active in the national conversation about gun control.
Once 11:17 hit, the students started to leave their classes. They walked, held signs, and shouted; there was a little bit of everything.
"Our priority is to make sure students do have a voice and students do have the opportunity to express themselves," said Blake Revelle with Indian Hills. "That's what we try to do every day in the classroom."
It was a chance to let the hundreds of students take action out of the classroom.
The demonstration was entirely student-led and was started by an eighth grader named Sasha.
"I thought maybe 20 people would come, but this is great," said Sasha Malik.
She said that, while students may have a variety of personal reasons for coming out, her main priority was reminding her classmates that they have a voice.
"I want our generation and generations above and below ours to know we can make a change, and our change will hopefully lead to no fear in schools," she said.
After 17 minutes passed, students made their way back to the school. The time spent was just another way they can learn how to get hands-on with their involvement.
"It shows that they have the opportunity to voice themselves and practice what we discuss in the classroom, too," said Scott Sherman with Indian Hills. "It gives them a real-world opportunity and education and learning opportunities."
The walkout was arranged with approval from the school, as far as timing. There was no mention of any punishment for students' participation.
There is another activity planned for students who want to engage in the conversation about gun reform.
Students expect thousands to fill up a local park on Saturday as they participate in the March for Our Lives event that will be held across the country.
Danielle Dodd and Katie Bullock are students at Winnetonka High School.
Both of them felt spurred to action following the shootings at a Parkland, Florida high school where 17 people were killed.
They're just two of dozens that helped put together an event planned for Saturday.
"Right now it's an empty park, but come Saturday at noon? It's going to be full and you're going to feel it," said Dodd.
"I remember when I was little, how adults around us would talk about 9/11 and how they would talk about Columbine as these crazy events that they could never see coming that had just shaken the ground that they walked on, and we just have shootings like Parkland that happen all the time and nobody bats an eyelash," said Bullock.
"What this is for me is a way to take away that normalcy, because we don't want to be reading these headlines anymore and we don't want to be just rewriting them anymore either so that it's less people getting killed or a different circumstance," Bullock said. "We want to be changing them so that it's not happening."
While a big focus of the conversation will be about guns, Dodd emphasized that it's also about getting people in gear to take action.
"We're going to try to get a lot of young people registered here to vote and get them educated on issues specifically pertaining to gun violence, but also a more general breadth of issues," Dodd said.
Both students said they hope to see big changes on the horizon as more young people come of age to vote.
They also said two major goals they hope to see accomplished in their lifetime are a ban on assault rifles and universal background checks that also cover private sales.
They also hope the event will begin a more active dialogue between citizens and elected officials.