I thought Friday, March 9, 2018 would be a normal Friday. Spring sports were starting up soon, so we had our last pep rally of the year, I am a freshman in high school. I walked up the bleachers and sat down next to my friend to chat. A few minutes later, a student was handed the microphone. He caught the attention of the crowd, and started speaking, “As you all are aware, 17 innocent students and staff were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, FL on Valentine’s Day. There has also been news about a national walkout being conducted next Wednesday in memory of these students and staff.”
My heart dropped. Is my school participating in this walkout I’ve seen on Twitter? The speaker and his group handed info flyers to everyone as they exited the pep rally. Some students were excited and buzzing, and some left the gym ignoring the activists or refusing to take their rally invites.
The handouts included the time, date, location, and what the walkout was about.
On the day of the walkout, students were to walk out to the school stadium at 9:30am but there wouldn’t be an announcement dismissing them. No one would not be punished for missing class as teachers and administrators were aware of the event.
Activities included paying respects to the 17 lives lost, listening to classmates speak, and signing a banner in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS students. The last activity was “to write letters to their (student’s) congressmen during their lunch periods”.
This is what puzzled me: if we are simply remembering the lives lost without politicizing the event, then why are we writing letters to congress? How is that going to remember the 17 innocent lives that were lost? This letter writing campaign attached to the walkout put me as a conservative student in a lose-lose situation.
If I didn’t walkout, I might be viewed as disrespectful to the victims. If I did walkout and support their movement to change gun legislation, I wouldn’t be upholding my conservative values. It was then I realized that this school sanctioned walkout was going to become very political.
I got home and started talking with some of my conservative friends about our plan the day of the walkout. Initially a friend and I were planning on writing a speech in support of the Second Amendment and sharing it at the walkout. However in the end we decided not to, because we thought it would just add fuel to the fire of political division.
Initially neither I nor any of my friends were going to walkout. After thinking about it, I felt like I should because of their claimed motive: remembering the 17 lives lost.
The weekend before the walkout I did some research and lots of thinking. By definition, a walkout is “a sudden angry departure, especially as a protest or strike.” So why are my peers going to “protest” and depart out of anger for the 17 lives lost? I decided that my initial reaction was the right one; I was no longer planning to walk out. I talked it over with some friends and family, and they stood by my decision.
The morning of Wednesday, March 14, 2018 arrived. I walked into the school and was welcomed by a whiff of the chlorine from the pool. I said good morning to our school police officer, and sat with my friend group before the first bell.
It seemed like a normal day to me. There was an announcement that students participating in the walkout should go to the gym instead of outside because of the cold weather, I wasn’t surprised.
Once I got to third period, I knew what was about to go down, and I knew how I was going to handle it. I grabbed my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird and started reading along with my teacher. I glanced over at the digital clock on the wall: 9:29.
Backpacks were zipping up, books were being closed, and whispers filled the air as my teacher was reading out of her copy of the book. I took a deep breath and realized it was time.
The clock struck 9:30.
Teachers and staff were walking through the hallway with walkie talkies, preparing for the mass of students. A large amount of students stood up and walked out of the classroom, some I believed to be Trump fans. “They’re probably just walking out to skip class,” I thought.
By 9:31 only 5 other students were left in my English class. My teacher didn’t want to continue, so we had a free period. I immediately grabbed my phone from my backpack and started texting, my phone was blowing up. “Who walked out?” “How many people walked out?” “What did your teacher say?” “Snapchat and Instagram are full of anti 2A messages.” My heart was beating.
Is this the type of society that I am growing up in, is this what my entire generation thinks? I looked out the small window to the hallway and saw our school police officer waving and smiling at me. Something clicked in my mind at this moment about how crucial law enforcement was, especially in this situation.
Later, I learned that there were 6-8 police officers at my school during this time, even though the walkout was indoors. Would someone try to actually walk out and skip school during all the commotion? The answer of course was a yes, at least a few students tried to exit school during the walkout.
I didn’t walkout, so I don’t know for sure what happened in that 17 minute period. During those 17 minutes, I thought about the 17 lives that were lost. My heart breaks for the friends and families of the victims, along with the students that are forever scarred because of this tragedy.
I hope that no other student ever has to encounter the same uncomfortable situation that I was put into in a school setting; having to choose between my values and my compassion.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.