Central joins national gun-violence walkout

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Central joins national gun-violence walkout

photo credit to  Jasmeen Dhother

photo credit to Jasmeen Dhother

Photo By Jasmeen Dhother

photo credit to Jasmeen Dhother

Photo By Jasmeen Dhother

Photo By Jasmeen Dhother

photo credit to Jasmeen Dhother

Sofia Sanchez, Staff Writer

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Exactly one month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Central High School students joined a national student walk out on March 14th to honor the 17 victims. Tens of thousands of students across the U.S. participated in this walk out to both commemorate those who were killed, and protest gun violence. Central students gathered on both East and West campuses to remember victims by writing empowering messages for Stoneman survivors, releasing 17 balloons and observing 17 minutes of silence to honor each of the lives lost.

After the intention of a nationwide student walk out began to gain momentum, the East social science department was contacted by Central administration for assistance regarding the best way to allow student free speech while maintaining a safe environment. Government teacher Elena Vincent, along with other teachers in this department, had found that many students, especially those who were completing civic action projects, were interested in memorializing the Stoneman shooting that happened on February 14th. Vincent stated, “I think it’s one of the reasons why I became a teacher. I really believe in students and their voice. I think that students have the power to change the world, that they need to be given the opportunity to do so and this was an amazing example of that. I loved it.” The event was initially sparked and organized by students. Once security concerns were put to rest, both East and West administration asked all staff to accept and respect this student effort.

Though students who participated were predominately unified by taking a stand against gun violence, there were clear disparities in other messages they hoped to convey. Junior Mario Montano commented, “The reason I walked out, wasn’t to protest gun laws because I don’ t believe that the actions of the few should prevent people from getting weapons. I wanted to honor the 17 lives that were lost in a random act of violence.”

According to teachers in Central’s social science department, the purpose of the walk out was more aligned with Montano’s ideas, and meant to commemorate the Stoneman victims. However, according to students from both West and East campus, the reasons students actually showed up varied. Senior Desiree Cisneros was one of the students who walked out for political reasons regarding  gun control. Cisneros states, “Although our actions won’t directly impact the government’s decisions, it still shows our support for making gun laws more strict in the U.S. We’re trying to make a difference.”

The walk out received negative reactions from some students and teachers due to conflicting views on gun control, missed class time, student free speech or questionable motivations for participating students, but the general consensus seemed to be that most students had responsibly exercised their right to speak out and send a message that it was time for change.