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NHS students plan Wednesday walkout

NHS students are planning to make their voices heard on gun violence

Sara Leatherberry

Sara Leatherberry

Abby Hanson, Tate Bailey, and Kennedy Pastore

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This Wednesday, some students at NHS will take part in a nationwide walkout to protest gun violence and honor the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting. As an alternative, student government has organized a series of events to commemorate the one-month anniversary of the Parkland massacre.

Although the NHS administration says it cannot officially endorse a walkout due to concerns about safety, they also say students choosing to leave the building on Wednesday will not be punished.

“We recognize student’s right to have a voice in the matter, so we are not going to prevent students from walking out,” Assistant Principal Kevin Stuckwisch said.

At NHS, administrators plan to direct the walkout participants, who leave their classes at 10:00, to leave from Gate 4 in the freshman center. Administrative staff plans to work with the Noblesville police department to maintain a perimeter around the building so students can protest safely.

The NHS student government, like the school’s administration, does not endorse the walkout. An alternative to the demonstration was proposed and sent out to students on Mar 9.

“On March 14, we came up with a plan to honor the students in Parkland,” senior and student body Vice President Alec Lefors said. “There’s a prayer vigil that’s happening early in the morning, before school starts, along with an extended moment of silence. Then there will be a student produced video that will be shown to everybody prior to 10 o’clock. After that, the walkout takes place, whether [students] are choosing to participate or not.”

Additionally, students will be given the opportunity to discuss issues related to the tragedy in Parkland with teachers at lunch. According to Lefors, having discussions about gun violence is important.

“I think what the kids in Parkland are doing is phenomenal,” LeFors said. “At Noblesville, we should also be talking to our community. We should be contacting our representatives or marching out to the capitol building. Students can do something. I do hope we see a change.”

However, some students, like junior Gavin Cooley, are upset because they feel the official plan is not doing enough.

“Talking is a starting point, but we’re past that now. The goal [of the walkout] is to tell lobbyists and legislators that if they don’t reform gun laws, future voters will not support them. Keeping [the walkout] contained in the high school does not send that message.”

Though student government presented the alternative in hopes to facilitate empathy and conversation, some students still feel it misses the point.

“I appreciate the student government’s concern with remembrance. At the same time, I am disappointed that they wouldn’t take a harder position on gun violence in America. I feel like the best way to honor the victims’ memory is to actively demonstrate. While remembrance is a crucial component of the reaction to violence, detesting gun violence through more direct ways is equally as important,” said senior Bryce Colón.

The power of demonstration, according to Colón, should not be underestimated or undervalued.

“I hope that students realize the magnitude of their power and influence in civil matters, and I hope students and young people realize that they do not have to be silenced into non-action or apathy,” Colón said. “I also hope that those eligible register to vote after the events on Wednesday.”

LeFors, like Colón, agrees that young people must get out to the polls to make their voices heard.

“When you have the opportunity to vote, you have the opportunity to make a difference,” LeFors said.

Stuckwisch points out that although the walkout has yet to occur, change is made through movements; history has shown that much.

“Well, I think we are allowing students to walk out of the building, which is going to cause a disruption, and I think disruptions a lot of time get attention that’s covered,” Stuckwisch said. “Those are the types of things that lead to change. You go back to look at the Women’s Suffrage Movement or the Civil Rights Movement or the Vietnam War protests. [With] all those types of things, disobedience a lot of times is what gets attention and causes change, but I think always following that up and not just having that in there with a 17 minute walkout, [like] doing more to educate people about school safety, [is important].”

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NHS students plan Wednesday walkout