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School safety walkout

National school walkout reverberates in student body

LISTEN+UP%3A+Senior+Connor+Mahern+delivers+a+speech+to+those+who+participated+in+the+walkout.+After+listening+to+Mahern%27s+speech%2C+the+protesters+took+turns+reading+biographies+of+the+17+Parkland+shooting+victims.
LISTEN UP: Senior Connor Mahern delivers a speech to those who participated in the walkout. After listening to Mahern's speech, the protesters took turns reading biographies of the 17 Parkland shooting victims.

LISTEN UP: Senior Connor Mahern delivers a speech to those who participated in the walkout. After listening to Mahern's speech, the protesters took turns reading biographies of the 17 Parkland shooting victims.

Photo by Lizzy Hosty

Photo by Lizzy Hosty

LISTEN UP: Senior Connor Mahern delivers a speech to those who participated in the walkout. After listening to Mahern's speech, the protesters took turns reading biographies of the 17 Parkland shooting victims.

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A small group of students huddled at the side of the school, shivering in the below freezing March air as senior Connor Mahern stood on a bench and delivered a speech.

“We as young people won’t stand for our legislatures not representing their constituents’ right to peace of mind,” Mahern said in his speech.

Mahern’s address voiced what some Americans, both young and old, are calling for: gun law reform and school safety.

On Wednesday, March 14, high school students across the nation walked out of their schools in solidarity with the recent school shooting victims in Parkland, Fla., voicing their dissatisfaction with the current state of gun laws in the United States. Since they are unable to vote, many teenagers used walking out to advocate for school safety after the latest in a long string of deadly school shootings in America.

“It could’ve been any school,” sophomore Emma Woolsey said. “It could have been our school, and I think [that’s] something everyone should be aware of.”

Set exactly one month after the Parkland shooting, students in all time zones walked out at 10 a.m. and remained out of class for 17 minutes, one minute to honor each of the students and staff members killed in the Parkland shooting.

Though the students’ goal was simple, the execution was not. Leaving the school building without administrative approval is considered truancy, and some schools treated the walkout as such. For instance, a statement warning students that participation in the walkout would result in a three-day suspension was issued by superintendent of Texas Needville Independent School District Curtis Rhodes in advance of the walkout. The district has followed through with the superintendent’s claims according to a statement it made to NPR.

In response to administrative policies like that of Needville, several colleges made statements on social media saying that punishments or disciplinary records due to peaceful protesting would not hinder a student’s chances of being accepted into those respective colleges. Many students, even those not protesting, expressed their gratitude at this decision.

“It’s anyone’s right to protest what they want to and [colleges] are recognizing students’ rights,” junior Camille Woods said. “I think that’s what the schools should do.”

Students at Roncalli were free to walk out after individually meeting with principal Mr. Chuck Weisenbach to discuss his or her reasoning for walking out and presenting some form of parent permission.

Weisenbach stated that many options were discussed, but the one put in place was ultimately the best fit for Roncalli.

“It provided those students who wanted to express their voice the opportunity to do so but did not interrupt the educational day for the remainder of the students who did not wish to participate,” Weisenbach said.

Nearly 20 students participated in the walkout at Roncalli on the 14th with the permission of Weisenbach and their parents, and though the numbers were small, the message was mighty.

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About the Writer
Elizabeth Bradley, Staff Writer

Elizabeth Bradley is a junior at Roncalli. She in involved in Linus Club, Pro-Life Club, and Earth Club. After high school, Elizabeth plans to attend a college to study a subject. This is her first year on staff

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