Students protest gun violence with school walkout

Roughly 400 students walked out of their third hour classes today to protest gun violence and advocate for safer schools. The protests were a part of the National School Walkout against gun violence.

Bailey Nobrega and Mary Kiani Nia

Gabe Swartz, Editor-in-chief

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Students at Blue Valley Northwest exited their third hour classes as part of the National School Walkout against gun violence Friday. After making their way to the flagpole in front of the main entrance, an estimated 400 students walked to the outdoor classroom. As the students walked to the outside classroom, senior Eric Christman explained his reasoning for skipping class to participate.

“I’m here to be informed,” Christman said. “I’m not uninformed, I’d just like to hear the opinions of everyone in my school.”

After senior Kanishka Mehra and junior Ellen Bruce, the protest organizers, opened the rally with a few opening remarks, the crowd observed 6:20 of silence in honor of the victims of a shooting at Marjory-Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Feb. 14. Following the moments of silence, senior Dan Edmonds gave a speech about the trend of white males as perpetrators of gun violence, and other students followed with their own remarks.

“We wanted people to be more aware of the situation because a lot of high schoolers aren’t aware of the situation,” Mehra said, “and what’s going on with school shootings and what they can do, and so we’re giving them an opportunity to express their voices without having the ability to vote.”

Junior Austin Bates and freshman Sam Wise each said opposing gun violence was something everyone agrees with, but the idea of taking away all guns was too much for them.

“The message should have been against school shootings and what not, because of course I agree with that,” Bates said. “But, they were talking about banning guns and that wouldn’t work.”

We’re giving [students] an opportunity to express their voices without having the ability to vote.”

— Kanishka Mehra

“What I would oppose to is taking guns away as a whole is a scary thought to me personally because I know sometimes guns can save people’s lives and until you are in that situation you have no clue how you really feel about guns,” Wise said.

With students still speaking, Principal Amy Murphy cut in near the end of the hour to send everyone back into the school. At 10:54 a.m., Murphy and other members of the administration began ushering students back to class. The group of students protesting, which began at just under 400, dwindled down to just 30 students after the majority headed back inside for the end of fourth hour. Murphy said with with three-quarters of the Northwest student body never leaving class, she was happy with the way the faculty handled themselves.

“It wasn’t like we had classes that had only one or two kids left in the building,” Murphy said, “so I just appreciate the fact that teachers just kept doing what they do so it was good for the kids that didn’t go out.”

Overall, Mehra said she felt like the protest was successful and succeeded in its aim.

“I think we had a great turnout, and I think we still have people talking so just this is what a protest is,” Mehra said. “If school shootings can disturb the school day, so can we.”