Shootings prompt national school walk-out

Students organize protest on gun violence issues

Payton Fenwick

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Gaby Lara

Senior Gracie Hammond and Junior Quinn Rhodes lead a meeting on Thursday, March 1 to organize the gun violence protest that will take place at our school Wednesday, March 14.

Following the devastating Feb. 14 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, there is currently a nationwide call to social and political reform. Among these was the organization of a national student-led walkout, which Newton students participated in on March 14.

Approximately 150 students participated in the walkout, lasting precisely 17 minutes to honor the number of students and staff killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas.

Upperclassmen students who felt passionately on the issue took charge to organize the walkout and get approval from the administration.

“We talked about things we wanted to achieve and goals. I sent out a survey to get an idea of who would participate in the walkout. I and others agreed we wanted the administration to approve the walk out to maximize the amount of people who could participate,” senior Gracie Hammond said.

Prior to the walkout, students made signs and a banner demanding for a safer school setting. Students reported to the front of the school, where there was a podium set up to let their voices be heard. Seniors Gracie Hammond, Jabria Giles and junior Quinn Rhodes co-wrote a speech to give during the walkout.

“We decided we wanted a speaker, but rather than just one person write a speech we kind of decided to have the interested people co-write something. It allowed more voices to be heard and just kind of had this message of unity,” Hammond said.

Student participants still feel deeply about the precautions the student body and administration must take in order to prevent another school shooting.

“It wakes us up, it wakes everybody up. It wakes us up to what needs to be done and what we need to do. We need to make schools and other places safer,” junior Rebecca Raymundo said.

Some students feel that the issue may be more than a matter of stricter gun laws. Rhodes said that regardless, something needs to be done about the safety of students in the community.

“At this point, it’s not about your political party. It’s about keeping people safe. No matter what you believe, people are dying from assault rifles, cars and knives. And it’s not just about a matter of keeping people safe from guns, it’s a matter of keeping people safe from violence,” Rhodes said.

Other than the walkout, Hammond and Rhodes created a Facebook group, Newton Youth for Change, and are encouraging students to remain engaged in local and national issues.

“Other than the walkout, we are encouraging students to be civically active and I’m trying to get a voter registration booth at the school. The effort can’t just be on Twitter,” Hammond said.