On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, my fourteen year old kid and the kid’s best friend led a Walk Out from their school at 10:00am to say that they’ve had Enough.
They organized this entirely on their own. They printed posters and flyers. They shared and mobilized their friends to join them. They talked with a teacher they knew they could trust and sought her guidance.
But they didn’t really ask their parents. The night that my kid approached me, about a week prior, all I was asked to do was to print some of their posters and flyers. When I asked if I needed to come to school to go through the check out process, the kid said, “Nope. We’ve got people for that” without really explaining what that meant, but telling me clearly that they had it covered, and they wanted to do this themselves.
Let me say that again: they wanted to do this themselves
These kids are not pawns. They are not doing the bidding of George Soros, the anti-gun lobby (as if such a thing existed), or the media. They are not doing this at the behest of their crazy, radical, snowflake parents.
They are doing this for one reason and one reason alone: #Enough.
They’ve had enough of their classes being interrupted by Live Shooter Drills at school.
They’ve had enough with our jadedness that no matter how many kids die or are impacted by school shootings, and according the Washington Post that number sits at 187,000 since Columbine in 1999, we adults claim nothing can ever be done to address this.
They’ve had enough of our refusal to say with one voice, your extremist “gun rights above all” does not outweigh our right to life.
They’ve had enough of our silence, and they will not be silent any more.
I’ve never been more proud of my kid and of all these kids than I was that Wednesday morning.
That was until this morning when my kid got up on the first day of Spring Break to go to Birmingham to March For Our Lives.
Our children are screaming for their lives.
Only fools would ignore or dismiss their voices.
The future is far brighter than it has ever been because of these amazing, organized, brave, and loving kids.
Here are their words from the WalkOut on March 14, 2018 at 10:00am.
On February 14, 2018, a gunman went to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and opened fire. He killed 17 people and injured 14 others. Many students took it into their own hands to make sure that a school shooting like that one never happens again, we are some of those students. Many of these students were not much older than ourselves, some of them were our age. We are here today to remember the lives who were lost on that day.
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14 years old
She was an excellent soccer player, and was well-loved by her community. She went to a Jewish sleepaway camp called Camp Coleman. The camp has expressed its sadness at her loss.
Scott Beigel, 35
He was a geography teacher. He was also a counselor at Camp Starlight. He died while bringing students to safety, and his loss prevented that of several others.
Martin Duque Anguiano, 14
According to his brother, he was funny and outgoing. His brother has set up a GoFundMe page to cover funeral expenses.
NIcholas Dworet, 17
He was a senior that was prepared to go to the University of Indianapolis in the fall. He would have joined the swim team there as well.
Aaron Feis, 37
He was an assistant football coach at the school, who died after guarding several students from being shot. One student said that he would make sure everyone is safe before himself.
Jaime Guttenburg, 14
Jaime was a dancer and her father has been very outspoken since her death, he even created an organization called “Orange Ribbons for Jaime”.
Chris Hixon, 49
He was the school’s athletic director, his wife described him as an awesome husband, father, and American.
Luke Hoyer, 15
He loved basket ball and idolized Lebron James. His family said that he was always happy and how his smile was contagious.
Cara Loughran, 14
She danced at the Drake School of Irish Dance in South Florida and was described as always having a smile on her face.
Gina Montalto, 14
She was a member of the school’s winter color guard and an artist, she was said by her aunt to be designing new clothing trends all the time.
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Joaquin was born in Venezuela and moved the U.S. at 3 years old. He became a naturalized citizen last January. His final social media post was to his girlfriend, in the post he thanked God for what he called a “blessing”.
Alaina Petty, 14
She was a member of her school’s JROTC, and had volunteered to help with Hurricane Irma recovery in September. Her family said that she loved to serve.
Meadow Pollack, 18
She was a senior and had been accepted into Lynn University in Boca Raton. Her best friend, Gil Lovito said in a Facebook post “You are and forever will be loved.”
Helena Ramsay, 17
She died protecting her friend, she held up a book to protect herself while her friend hid behind a bookshelf. Her family described her as kind-hearted and witty.
Alex Schacter, 14
He was a member of the school’s marching band in orchestra, he marched baritone and played trombone in orchestra. His family set up a GoFundMe page so that the band can be funded in his memory.
Carmen Schentrup, 16
She was a National Merit scholarship semifinalist. Her friend said she loved Marvel movies and Shakespeare.
Peter Wang, 15
Peter was a member of the school’s JROTC, he had also taken culinary classes at the school. He had been holding a door open for other students when he was shot, and many people petitioned for the White House to let him be buried with full military honors.
Courtlin Arrington, 17
Courtlin was not a victim of the Parkland shooting, but one of an accidental shooting at Huffman High School in Birmingham. The medical detectors at her school were not in use that day for no known reason, and her killer was able to get the gun in, and accidentally discharge a bullet. She had been accepted into nursing school.
These people died because of a senseless act of violence, the eighteenth school shooting in this year alone. Something needs to change. We need action. There have been many suggestions from many different sources, but here are some ideas. Some people believe we need stronger gun laws to make it more difficult for dangerous or underaged people to buy a gun. Some believe that we need to have better mental health care and do background checks before the purchase of a gun. Many believe that we need to be more inclusive of other people and prevent bullying. Others believe that we need to improve the security of our schools. No matter what method you believe is best, I’m sure we can all agree that change needs to happen.
However, a lot of students feel stuck, like no one will listen to them, or that their actions won’t achieve anything. Here are some things that you as a child can do. Contact your representatives. Whether it’s the governor, one of Alabama’s senators, or even the president, contacting the politician in charge of our area can be very helpful. You could make a phone call, write an email, or send a letter. You could also attend city council meetings, and try to speak to them there.
Another thing you can do is to be very vocal about change. First, educate yourself on the subject. Then, make social media posts, hang up flyers, speak to people – whether those people are your friends or family. You can also provide your presence to already existing events, such as marches, protests, or assemblies. Attending protests and marches only makes the numbers bigger, which can get the point across even better.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to speak up. If you see someone with a gun at school, even if they’re your best friend, make sure you tell someone. Guns are weapons, and certainly aren’t safe in the hands of inexperienced high-schoolers. Make sure that if there is a gun in a school, or if there’s a threat, that a staff member knows about it.