Students say enough is enough through series of protests

Students walkout on March 14.

Kailey Blunk, Staff Writer

Elders have complained of teenagers and their cell phones for a while now. Little did they know, cell phones could be used to start a political war on gun control by teenagers. #NeverAgain, #IWillMarch, #MarchForOurLives, #MSDStrong, #EnoughIsEnough… the list of trending hashtags on Twitter focusing on the call for gun control goes on and on.
In the aftermath of the shooting in Parkland in which the shooter used an AR-15 rifle, students of MSDHS stepped forth to demand stricter gun control laws in the state of Florida. These students have not only changed the state, but they have changed the nation as they created a wave of gun control activism.

March 14 – Women’s March Youth EMPOWER, a branch of Women’s March for younger members, organized a national walkout to bring awareness to youth’s opinion on gun control and to commemorate the one-month anniversary of the Parkland shooting.
Students across the nation walked out in solidarity on March 14; Plainfield School District 202 high schools being some of those. Each student had a personal reason for walking out such as making their voice heard, school shooting awareness, and gun safety.
“The walkout concerns schools all across the nation, including ours. I felt obligated to participate because I believe in the message the walkout brings,” Megan Sanico, senior, said.
In the last days of February, a Twitter page, @Psd202ForChange, was made by Plainfield North senior, Emma Simpson, to keep students and parents updated and to aid in the organization of North’s walkout, however after gaining followers from all high schools in the district, Simpson opened it up to the district. She worked with other students to find representatives from each high school in order to gain ideas from everyone.
However, issues arose over the organization of the district’s walkout.
“There is an inherent safety risk for students, staff, and the district in tacitly allowing student walkouts,” Dr. Lane Abrell, superintendent, said in an official statement that was emailed to parents.
“I, as Superintendent, am not willing to take that risk. District 202 will not approve or endorse a walkout by our students.” Abrell said.
The students who chose to walkout were to receive a consequence per the school handbook; however, an alternative was later offered. Students could attend a Q&A session with a district representative or senator, which was held after school the same day.
“I think it’s important for students to be involved in our democracy as active citizens, especially since many will be eligible to vote in November’s election,” Rose Fleming, teacher, said.
Principal Dave Stephens reported that about 350 students walked out, and about the same number attended the after-school Q&A with state representative Mark Batnick.
“The walkout was such an amazing day, and I appreciate everyone who participated,” Jade Smith, senior, said. Smith was one of the four students who worked with the school to organize the walkout.

March 24- March for Our Lives organized 819 marches in cities all over the nation such as Washington D.C., Parkland, New York City, and Chicago. Nine marches were held in the Chicagoland-area, the main one being held in Union Park in Chicago with an estimated 85,000 in attendance.
“It felt surreal, and now it’s here and it’s huge!” Isabel Paredes, senior at Plainfield South and March for Our Lives Chicago organizer, said to the Chicago Tribune.
March for Our Lives Chicago was commenced by multiple speakers and performance artists. These speakers were all under the age of 21 and came from different student activism groups such as Chyann Global from Majority Youth Rising, Eduardo Medel from Young Urban Professionals, a group from Kids of the Block, poet Jalen Kobayashi, 12-year-old Caitlyn Smith, Hinsdale Central High School’s poetry team, Juan Reyes from Chicago Student Union, and Kuumba Lynx Group Performance.
After performances and speeches, the marchers commenced their march through the neighborhood surrounding the park screaming chants and waving signs in unison.
“I now know that we can fight for this,” Simpson said. “Together we are stronger.”

April 20 – The 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, there will be the National Student Walkout. The purpose of the upcoming walkout is to “protest congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence,” as stated on their website.
The walkout is planned to start at 10am where students will gather outside their buildings. 17 minutes of silence in tribute to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting will commence the protest. After that, there will be an open mic for students to make their voices heard.
Unlike the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER walkout, the National Student Walkout would last the remainder of the day.
“Will I support people who are passionate about it? Sure. People that are not passionate about it and would like to just skip a day of school, I don’t have as much sympathy for,” Stephens said. He says that he stands behind the cause, however is not in favor of an entire day protest and feels that students can find better outlets to make their voices heard without negative impacts on their educations.
Some students disagree with the walkouts, not only because some students use it as a way to get out of school, but also because they have differing views on gun control.
“People might not understand the opposing side because they are so blind to what they see on media, TV, and from what their friends say. In order to have a strong argument, you have to understand both sides. Many do not,” Mady Kulekowskis, senior, said.