Friday, April 13, 2018

NEWS: Walk Out for School Safety

by Kelsey Meriwether
Photo Credit: Kacy Clowser

On March 14th, students across the country walked out to protest violence against students. Nazareth was no different, as over 300 students left class and went outside to call for the prevention of school violence. Once outside, many students spoke about different topics relating to school violence, mental health awareness, and becoming activists.

When walking out, students had a lot to consider. Was the event going to be extremely politically based? Would they miss too much class? Was it simply too cold out?

We spoke to one student who walked out, junior Sarah Jani, and she said that she walked out because “[she] think[s] gun control is an issue that is current, and there are all these shootings, and there hasn’t been any action. [She] believe[s] students should do something to make a change.”

On the other hand, we talked to junior Paige Carach, a student who did not walk out, and she told us that she was not really concerned with missing class but, instead, did not participate because she “thought it would be more political than it actually ended up being.” The main concern of many of the people planning the event was maintaining political neutrality and focusing on mental health and preventing the death of more students.

We spoke to Mr. Davis, and he said that after communicating that the school would be allowing students to walk out, he was concerned about the backlash from people who did not agree with the school participating in such a “political issue.” The planners focused on what the National Walkout’s website said to understand what they were recommending, and they also reached out to several students who had previously expressed interest in participating in this type of event.

The administration was extremely concerned about maintaining the safety of students and keeping any counter-protesters away from them. The students were kept in the center of the school’s campus in order to protect them from, as Mr. Davis said, “some knucklehead who’s out there and wants to do something devious.”

The students then took over and planned out the actual event, including the speeches. We spoke to two of the speakers, sophomore Natalie Meriwether and sophomore Emma Vickery, about why they believed this event was something that they wanted to get involved in.

Meriwether said, “Personally, I am very passionate about this topic, and I believe it is very pertinent to our generation. None of us want to see anymore lives lost to gun violence.” While she was more focused on the violence and preventing, Vickery was very concentrated on the mental health side of the issue. She said that it was important to her because “Most of the violence that occurs isn’t even mass shootings; it’s suicides.” That fact astounded her and caused her to believe that this event is very important.

Both girls spoke of the peace and unity that was felt at the event. They were concerned about counter-protesters yet, none showed up. Overall, the speakers and administration was very satisfied with the outcome of the event.

Meriwether tells us that as another country-wide walkout is rapidly approaching on April 20th, students and administration are talking about what Nazareth will do this time.

Photo Credit: Megan Hunter

Photo Credit: Megan Hunter

Photo Credit: Megan Hunter

Photo Credit: Megan Hunter

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