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Buena High students participate in March 14 National School Walkout

By: Jessica Goolsby

 

Editor’s Note:  The following article is a special addition from Buena Speaks student newspaper from Buena High School in Ventura, CA.  The Lobby-O has been collaborating with this newspaper staff throughout the year.  

 

Since the surge of school shootings all around the nation, students everywhere have joined the National School Walkout and taken action within their own schools to start a movement. On Wednesday, March 14, at 10 a.m., Buena High School students collectively stood up and walked out of class and to the quad. Junior Celeste Rodriguez, senior Orlandria Ackerson, president of the Black Student Union, and senior Mia De La O spoke to approximately 1,600 students and staff, according to Frank Davis, assistant principal.

While many schools around the nation punished students for walking out, Buena administration encouraged students to participate. Davis said that he initially talked with Hannah Perez, ASB president, when administrators learned of the topic. “In passing the topic came up. I asked her ‘Do you want to coordinate something?’ From that point it just became me going ‘What do you need? Tell me what I can do to get you what you need,’ and they took it from there.”

During the 17-minute walk out, the speakers took their time on the stage to share their views and hopes for the future. Besides the occasional heckle or applause, silence filled the quad as their voices came through the loudspeaker.

Ackerson opened the speeches by saying, “The Second Amendment directly states that the Constitution will permit a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state,” she said. After addressing the Second Amendment, Ackerson addressed gun regulation: “What we are asking is not to take away all guns. What we want is better regulation, better background checks, and classes on how to use guns properly. What we want is to prevent another Pulse from happening. Another Las Vegas. Another Stoneman Douglas. Another Sandy Hook.”

Rodriguez was the second student speaker. Using mainly statistics and specific incidents, she was able to catch the crowd’s attention. “Two hundred and ninety-one. Two hundred and ninety-one — this is the number of school shootings that have occured since 2013. Eighteen. Eighteen school shootings have been reported in 2018, in the United States,” she said.

De La O, was the final student speaker, focusing more on how students can help make change. “Whether you’re a senior and you will be attending college in the coming fall or you have a few more years in high school, please do all in your power for your voice to be heard. For those who are turning 18 or will be 18, register to vote. This country was founded on sovereignty, let’s use it to our advantage,” said De La O.

After the event, some students expressed frustration, believing the event was marketed as a memorial but seemed to be a protest. Also, counter-protesters in the crowd were found to be wearing shirts and holding signs against gun control. One student, junior Noah Faulkner, wore a t-shirt showing a snake and the words “Don’t tread on me,” a slogan from the American Revolution. “I am against gun control. I think every American has the right to own and bear arms without limitations,” he said. “I saw the walkout as pushing a political agenda on a group of students who believed they were going to commemorate the lives lost in the Parkland shooting.”

When asked if the walkout was meant to be a memorial or protest, Ackerson responded, “This was definitely supposed to be more of a protest as it is inherently political in nature. It was about [the Parkland victims] but more on how they died and how we can change that as students… We saw it as a call to action for us as students to not let this cycle happen again.”

De La O believes that although students may not agree with each other or with what other advocates say, they agree that there has to be some change. “We can differ in how we see that change becoming physical in the world but if anything I think we can all say that there needs to be change. And that’s ultimately what we’re advocating for,” she said.

The last minute and half was dedicated to the victims at Stoneman Douglas, with Ackerson reading out their names and ages: “Alyssa Alhadeff, 14. Scott Beigel, he was 35 years old, a teacher. Martin Anguiano, he was also 14. Nicholas Dworet, 17. Aaron Feis, 37. Jaime Guttenberg, 14. Chris Hixon, 49. Luke Hoyer, 15. Cara Loughran, 14. Gina Montalto, 14. Joaquin Oliver, 17 years old. Alaina Petty, 14. Meadow Pollack, 18. Helena Ramsay, 17. Alex Schachter, 14. Carmen Schentrup, 16. Peter Wang, 15; those are the kids and adults who lost their lives in this past shooting,” concluded Ackerson.

 

 

Photo credited to Buena Speaks.

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