Students stage show of solidarity for school shooting victims

Hundreds of students gathered on Mar. 14 to protest gun violence in school shootings. The walkout featured students’ speeches, such as senior Shasta Sholes, president of the Social Justice League.

Sam Brook and Shannon Coan

Enough. Nunca más violencia. Never Again. We call BS. Nosotros somos el cambio. These are the words and posters that filled the air as students and staff walked out to protest gun laws and honor the victims of school shootings March 14.

This national walkout was planned in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) shooting in Parkland, Florida Feb. 14, where 17 students and staff were killed. Across the country more than 3,000 walkouts occured.

“We found out about this national protest, and we said, ‘We need to do something. We can’t be silent. We can’t just sit here while this issue continues to happen,’” junior organizer Adam Griffin said.

The student organizers came up with the idea while on Sojourn to the Past, a week long trip where students learn about the Civil Rights Movement. Once home, they partnered with the Social Justice League and Unity Club to organize speakers and discuss involving the whole school. ASB also assisted by placing post-its with positive messages on lockers and leading a ceremonious moment where students released balloons as others read the names of the 17 victims from MSD and schools who have recently had a school shooting.

“We hope to raise awareness about not only what’s happening, but what you can do to make a change and stand up for this,“ senior organizer Alex Strehlow said.

Furthermore, the walkout’s goal was to demand change and show that Sequoia stands in solidarity with all schools that have experienced gun violence.

“This is an issue that affects schools across the country,” junior organizer Diego De Nault said. “When it’s something that’s threatening students and the learning environment across the country, I think joining that movement and trying to be a part of that statement … is something that’s important and worth walking out for.”

The walkout started at 10 a.m. and was supposed to last for 17 minutes, one for each victim, but continued past that mark. Admin altered the bell schedule for the day to have brunch start at 10 a.m. in accomodation.

“I think that [changing the bell schedule is] fantastic because it’s showing that it’s not just the students, it’s also the school that’s supporting us,“ said Social Justice League President and senior Shasta Sholes. “The fact that they’re showing support is gonna be really beneficial for students because we know that they’re on our side.”

However, others were not happy about the bell schedule change.

“Putting it into the schedule completely defeats the purpose of a walkout,” sophomore speaker Sophie Cattalini said. “When it’s called a walkout, it means you are leaving something; you are leaving school or leaving class. When it is scheduled like this, it is in a way silencing students.”

Speakers throughout the walkout emphasized the need to continue this activism.

“17 minutes isn’t enough to change anything,” sophomore speaker Sarah Stampleman said in her speech. “This 17 minutes instead needs to be the awakening of the next generation of activists and more importantly voters who have the power to change something big. We just have to choose to do it.”

Other actions are planned for March 24, where a partner protest to the March For Our Lives is planned at the Courthouse Square and on April 20, when another national school walkout is planned.