Parkland. What was once another name in the extensive list of senseless tragedies within schools has now inspired a tidal wave of student protest and action. The student leaders from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have risen as major voices in the national effort to end gun violence in America. Their efforts have had a chain reaction in students across the country, including at West Bloomfield High School.
Students from the West Bloomfield High School #Enough Walkout Committee have collaborated with neighboring high schools and the national #NeverAgain campaign to plan a National School Walkout this Wednesday, March 14 to commemorate the lives lost during the Parkland shooting. At 10:00am, the standard time at which schools across the nation will take part in this demonstration, students are asked to gather outside the building for 17 minutes in silence to honor the lives of the 17 people killed during the shooting.
While the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School may seem foreign or distant to some in West Bloomfield, other students have felt deeply impacted by the shooting. Senior Marissa Stone’s personal connection to the shooting caused her to react in a unique way. To commemorate the lives of the 17 students and staff killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, she decided to set up unused school desks in the courtyard to honor them, and posted photos of the desks on social media.
“I went to the vigil [in Parkland] and that was very emotional and impacted me a lot . . .my mom said that instead of being reactive I should be proactive, so I wanted to try and make a difference,” said Stone, a member of the #Enough Walkout Committee.
Since Parkland it’s been clear that students across the country want more than “thoughts and prayers” after tragedy strikes. “Right now we’re trying to get the student body together to understand that gun violence is an issue that we can have an affect on, and that it’s not a left or right issue, it’s an issue that’s affecting each and every American. I feel like if we come together to understand that at the end of the day we’re doing this for ourselves, then we can actually get stuff done,” said senior Reese McCaskill, Jr., who is also a member of the committee.
The basic right to feel safe and secure in places of learning is a plea echoed by student activists in every corner of America, but now it’s up to our politicians to make a decision on how we move forward. Currently Michigan lawmakers are considering several gun-related measures. One bill would permit teachers and staff to carry firearms, according to the Detroit Free Press.
According to senior Jordan Robinson, the committee’s position is disapproving of this proposed legislation. “We don’t approve of having teachers have firearms in the classroom because we feel that they could be used irresponsibly. It’s the little things like that where we don’t know what could happen, and we don’t want to take that risk with advancing this legislation.”
Robinson is working with WBHS administrators to coordinate Wednesday’s walkout, and is leading the #Enough Walkout Committee’s efforts. Robinson says that this committee is working with Bloomfield Hills and North Farmington high schools, who are also planning to stage walkouts at their respective schools on March 14.
More information is expected to be released to students on the day of the event, but so far it has been said that students will be called down to leave the building if they so choose to on March 14. Students are also asked to wear orange, the color of the #NeverAgain campaign, or maroon and silver, the colors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Trying to understand the impact that this national walkout effort may have, Stone expressed, “I hope the government will realize that change needs to happen and change will happen. I hope the lives of the many people who have lost their lives to gun violence will not be forgotten and people will feel safe going to school.”
“Even as young adults, we have the power and the voice to make effective change in our communities, that will impact many people,” said McCaskill. “ In fact, many people in our country will turn 18 this year and that makes us eligible for voting. This is the time for our generation to fix the problems that some aren’t willing to fix and I’m hoping with this protest, change can come into fruition,” continued McCaskill, on what he wants to happen as a result of student demonstrations here and in other parts of the country.
Even in this time of grief and tragedy, optimism and hopefulness is driving student leadership against gun violence.