Walk Up Not Out

April 13, 2018

This school year has been a bit of a horror story for students across the nation. From Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, to Maryland’s Great Mills High gun violence, to our own lockdown here at FMHS, students everywhere have been exposed to a mess of fear and tragedy.

On March 14th, many of those same students who had been put through so much banded together to organize a national school walk out in protest of the lack of gun control. The March For Our Lives protest also took place on Saturday, March 24th for the rest of the country to voice their discontent with the current legislature and push for change. But Ryan Petty, father of one of the victims in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, advised against the idea of a school walkout. As he tweeted, “#walkupnotout.” The phrase quickly circulated through social media, finding its way to Instagram posts and CNN stories, each time with the same message:

  • Walk UP to the kid who sits alone and ask him to join your group.
  • Walk UP to the kid who never has a voluntary partner and offer to be hers.
  • Walk UP to your teachers and thank them!
  • Walk UP to someone and JUST BE NICE!

The question then becomes, which action makes the most difference? Personally, I didn’t participate in our school’s own walkout held on March 21st, but from the pictures I saw after the event, it looked like something that hopefully brought people together for a common purpose: to remember the 17 lives lost in Florida. The gray area lies in the next step. Where do we go from here? How do we make a difference? While I don’t believe walkouts will inspire direct change, much less keep shootings from happening, the best part about them is that they encourage kids to stand up and take part in their community and in their government. Walkouts give students an opportunity to find their voice…and USE IT. It’s individual people that choose to make a difference in the world by speaking out. Because in my opinion, change lies in the individual. It is up to each of us to make a difference, to be kind, to be inclusive, and to reach out to others.

SBA president and KIC week director, Veniece Miller, explained her thoughts on the school’s walkout as being a way to honor the victims in Parkland, Florida. “We as high school students know what it’s like to feel afraid,” Miller admitted. And she’s right. Having experienced our own lockdown, and having heard the tragedies of school shootings on the news, we as students can at least try to relate to the victims of the Parkland shooting and stand with them in their time of need. Miller claims that walkouts are extremely useful in that, “[They] get the ball rolling because when you have a mass of people in any place walking out, protesting, doing something…legislators, the news, people take notice. And that’s really important when you want to get a conversation started.” Miller continued on this to connect the nation’s school walkout a few weeks ago with the protests of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s. As she says, “It’s the first step to enact change.”

Walkouts utilize the First Amendment right expressed in our Constitution to express our discontent with the current state of things. They give students the opportunity to participate in their government and make their voice heard in order to make a change. “I think the walkout empowered students to use their voices and show that we are citizens of this country, and we deserve to have a voice, and we deserve to be safe,” Miller insisted. “We have a right to life.”

In regards to the walkUP, Miller declared that, “We should as students be walking up to people. We should promote positivity throughout our school.” The Walkup policies are ones that should be modeled every day by every person. It should be every person’s goal to spread kindness, and as Miller said “promote positivity.” But if real change is to be made, these two protests need to be coupled together. I believe that in order for us to change things, we can’t just leave classrooms for several minutes and immediately expect the legislatures surrounding gun control to change. This should not be an excuse to ditch math by any means. This should be the first in a series of actions to become more involved in our government. Walkouts are an excellent way to unite voices and focus on a purpose, but change needs to continue to work through the student body after the fact as well.

The future, ladies and gentlemen, is in the hands of those kids willing to stand up and make a difference.


Photo By: The Wait Is Over

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