“I stood up and walked”
PV students unite to stand with Parkland
One month ago, I learned that there had been yet another school shooting and that 17 people had been killed in a senseless and tragic act of violence. I watched as parents tearfully remembered saying goodbye to their children before school that morning, listened to survivors make passionate pleas to elected representatives, waited to learn more about how this could have happened, and hoped that something would finally change. I felt powerless.
On Wednesday, I stood up and walked.
I walked because I could not watch, listen, wait, and hope any longer.
To prevent future gun violence and make the classroom a safe place for learning, this country needs to pass gun control legislation, promote mental health awareness, and refuse to let the NRA sway politicians more than the citizens they were elected to represent. No parent should question if their child is safe when they drop them off at school. No student should fear for their life when they hear a fire drill. No teacher should need to shield students from a bullet with their body—or with their own gun.
By uniting under a common goal rather than shared ideology, we found strength in numbers.”
— Rachel Powell
I walked because I had to take action, and this walkout was our moment, as students, to show that we demand change and refuse to be ignored. My views may differ from those of many students that walked beside me, but these differences were overshadowed by our main purpose: to honor the victims of gun violence at Stoneman Douglas and call for an end to school shootings.
The student council made it abundantly clear that the walkout was not being politicized, but politics are unavoidable in today’s divisive atmosphere. I heard many students wondering aloud how an issue that has repeatedly sparked political debates could be incorporated into a non-political event. However, the walkout was able to center around bringing an end to school shootings without shining a light on any one political party’s viewpoint or proposed solution.
By uniting under a common goal rather than shared ideology, we found strength in numbers. We don’t all share the same opinions on how to fix this systemic problem, but we have formed a platform for discussion and collaboration fostered by mutual respect.
Whether a student walked to support stricter gun control laws, call for enhanced school security, honor the victims, join the #NeverAgain movement, or all of the above, this walkout is evidence of our power as young people. We are the generation that is going to create the change we want to see in the world.
Walking through the hallways and out of the doors at 10 a.m., surrounded by hundreds of my classmates and peers, I finally felt powerful. One voice may not be very loud, but together we can and will be heard. One set of footsteps can only go so far, but when we walk together towards positive change, we are a force to be reckoned with. Every step taken during the walkout was a step towards a future in which students can feel absolutely safe at school.
Once we returned to class and sat down at our desks, our pursuit was far from over. The steps I took as I walked around the track were the first of many. On March 24, I will join the March for Our Lives, a student-led anti-gun-violence rally, in New York City. For every student aiming to make a difference, the walkout cannot stand alone. Students need to continue to speak up and demand change, and we can never underestimate the power of our words, our votes, and our actions.