Leesville’s March 14 Walkout: Why we care

Katherine Magee, senior and leader of Leesville's walkout, talks of change as she rallies the student body. As the first person to give a speech, McGee set the mood for the rest of the march.

 

On March 14, hundreds of Leesville students participated in a walk-out to “uplift the names of the Parkland 17,” calling for an end to violence in schools.

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Key Leaders:

Two key leaders are  Katherine MaGee and Jayla Hagans.  Other student leaders include Erin Darnell, Mariana Herrera, Isabel Daumen, and Sarah Jumma.

Katherine Magee (pictured right), senior, decided to organize the demonstration after she realized that no one else was going to do it.

“… In my AP Gov class, [students wondered if] anyone thought there would be a

Katherine Magee, senior and leader of Leesville’s walkout, talks of change as she rallies the student body. As the first person to give a speech, McGee set the mood for the rest of the march. (Photo courtesy: Mariana Herrera)

movement at Leesville, and people said no because first of all we’re lazy, and second of all nobody wants to coordinate it and [Leesville is] pretty conservative,” said Magee about Leesville’s apathy. “It’s scary to be able to stand up and say ‘this is what we need to do’ and deal with that pushback from the conservatives at Leesville…  It’s so easy to take a back seat and say, ‘oh this person will do it,’ and nothing ends up happening.”

Being high school students, like many of the victims of the Parkland shooting, the issue of gun violence hit close to home for many of those involved in the walkout — including Jayla Hagans (pictured), senior, one of organizers of the demonstration. Hagans has already been involved in the Youth Organizing Institute already and felt it was time to bring her organizing and activism skills to Leesville. “I started this not because I believe gun control is the answer to ending violence in schools, but because I know how powerful youth and students movement can and will be. I think it is important to listen to the people who are directly impacted by what’s happening right now, and those people are students and youth all around the world. I am also hoping that this can be a starting point for students to begin thinking about what safety in schools REALLY looks like, and can motivate other students to do something about it,” said Hagans via text message.


On Friday, March 9, during SMART Lunch, organizers of the walkout met with interested students to supply more details on the March 14 walkout. This meeting was essential as many confused students wanted clarity.

Leaders passed a signup sheet around for interested students to help with certain parts of the walkout, such as making signs and banners, rewriting the petition, or taking photos or media.

The meeting also clarified the March 14 walkout will not be going political; rather, the walkout simply honors the Parkland victims, therefore the petition does not apply to this walkout. However, the original petition will be revised, so students should re-read the petition soon. The new petition emphasizes simply wanting safe schools, which leaders believe almost everyone should be able to get behind.

Posters created by students held proudly as leaders gave speeches. (Photo courtesy: Regan Harsa)

Erin Darnell, junior, talks to students about the walkout on March 14. (Photo courtesy: Sarah Stoflet)

One of the posters/banners created by students at Leesville held behind them as they marched. (Photo courtesy: Regan Harsa)


The Walkout:

Students gather together in the lobby before walking out together. Besides athletic events, this was one of the first times Leesville has come together as a student body.

This video captures about half of the student body present leaving for the field. With the help of the leaders, all students were ushered to Hamilton Field in a timely manner.


By: Izzee Akers —Senior Editor

On March 14, 2018, students all across the United States participated in National Walkout Day. The walkout was to honor the 17 students who lost their lives in the Parkland School shooting.

Mariana Herrera, junior, speaks to the hundreds of Leesville students at the walkout. (Photo courtesy: Regan Harsa)

For 17 minutes students walked out of their classes to protest, to honor those students, let their voices be heard, and end the violence in schools.

At Leesville Road High School, the walkout began at 9:00 a.m. Students met in the lobby and paraded to Hamilton Stadium in unison. The chant “When I say People you say Power- People! Power!” could be heard across the campus.

Katherine MaGee, senior at Leesville, played a large part in organizing the rally. She began the protest engaging people and letting them know why they were there. She then introduced Alia Hassan, senior, who represented the senior class. Hassan’s speech was nothing less than extraordinary as she named all of the 17 victims, honored them, and emphasized the change that we as students were making.

Last to speak was Mariana Herrera, junior at Leesville. Herrera reminded students that gun violence could happen to any student, at any high school. Rather than fear of going to school, students ought to fight for the safety.

As the three girls spoke, cheers erupted from the people. Many students held signs advocating for safe schools and awareness of the issues along with victims to school shootings.

Around 9:27 students made their way calmly back to their classrooms where they carried on with their studies knowing they have started a conversation that will continue long after the school year.


By: Hannah Comeskey — Staff Writer

A generation that has lived in fear of school shootings is now making their voices heard.

All across the nation, students walked out of class for seventeen minutes to dedicate and honor the victims of school shootings and to protest gun violence.

The movement swept the nation, and it all started with us, many voices, one goal: to make school a safe environment where no student, teacher, administrator, janitor, lunch lady, or parent ever has to feel concerned for their safety.

Students stood together on Hamilton field listening to speeches prepared by leaders. (Photo courtesy: Regan Harsa)

At nine, students flooded out of their classrooms speaking with each other about the importance this walkout had to them. A coordinator of the walkout, Katherine MaGee, enthusiastically motivated the crowd with chants — the students keenly responded as they marched to the field.

Students looked around them with awe and satisfaction at the incredible turnout.

As the speakers stood still, holding their notes in hand, the crowds grew quieter in suspense and people gathered closer together. Alia Hassan was the first to deliver a speech in which she effectively moved the crowd. Some students could be seen nodding their heads in agreement or hanging their heads while thinking of the tragedies that have occured.

Then came the moment of silence. A chill ran through the crowd and where there were murmurs before, nothing but a few shuffles from the students. A few looked up at the sky, a few down at their feet, a few stared off into space. People considered the lost hopes, crushed dreams, and destroyed futures of the victims and their families.

In that moment, it became clear to all that honoring the victims was what the walkout was really about.

Following the moment of silence, Mariana Herrera delivered a speech with the intentions of inspiring students to fight for a change: No more school shootings. Her speech made people think “what makes our school any different”, “it could have been us”, and “we would never know”.

As people walked back to class, there was a sense of accomplishment on everyone’s faces. The purpose of the walkout was to make our voices heard, to spread the message that we won’t be ignored and to do right by those who lost their lives by at least trying to make a change.


Once the protest ended, students returned to class to continue with their day.



A Different Viewpoint

Mary May, an underclassman at Leesville, gives her opinion on the planned walkout along with Josh Kirk and Simeon Ruff, seniors. Although the protest received a lot of support from the student body, some students, such as May, Ruff, and Kirk, think differently.


The Walk-Out: What’s the Point?

By Kamryn Owens– Staff Writer

The Leesville walk-out started circulating around the school three weeks ago. While most Loonies are supporting the walk-out against violence in the schools, there are some students who have mixed emotions about the event.

To go along with students who oppose the walk-out, there are also students who are afraid to go to the walk-out as well.

“I don’t plan on going because a lot of kids who are going are only doing it to get out of class, and I don’t want to be a part of that if something were to break out. I really think this will just cause more chaos,” said Rose Apollonia, a junior at Leesville Road High School

Due to how previous protests, like the Smart Lunch protest (which included a fight between protesters), have affected Leesville, many students are opposed to protesting against violence with a large mob.

Besides, several believe that there will always be violence in schools no matter what.

“I believe the walk-out is about spreading awareness for violence in schools, but I personally don’t think walking out will do much for our safety because there are still risks involved,” said Apollonia  after being asked what she thought the walk-out was really about.

“Even if we do a protest for violence, there is always going to be some sort of negativity and violence in schools everywhere — that is kind of what high school is,” said an anonymous Leesville student. “I think if we planned something around the community instead of at the school, maybe the result will be different, but I don’t plan on going.”

Though the Leesville community worked hard on planning the walk-out, Loonies believe there are more constructive ways to protest against unsafe schools.

“I think instead of the walk-out, we could protest to stop bullying as well as coming together and seeking out for those who are outcasts. Maybe we could make a friend somehow and make everyone feel like they are wanted,” said Dereka Baldwin, a junior at Leesville. “Don’t expect to see a change if you don’t make one. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.”

Nationally, there is #walkupnotout. The idea behind this movement is to talk to 17 people who appear lonely or who one does not know. By being empathetic and kind, the school culture will change and lead to less violence and bullying.

The activism about gun violence is still a world-wide trend, but there are still those who believe there are better ways to solve problems in the world. With two options — walk out or walk up — all students should have opportunities to change school culture.


Plans for the future:

Sarah Jumma– Staff Writer

The walkout was a vital step in the right direction, but it was only the beginning. Leesville students are now planning their next steps against potential violence at their school. April 20, 2018, is the19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting- one of the first mass school shootings in the United States- the students of Leesville will walkout out of school one again. But this time, elected state representatives, and a variety of media outlets will be in attendance to have the most monumental impact possible.

The general population of Leesville is focused on action against gun violence and preventing sources of harm from accessing the high school campus. Between now and April 20, the organizers of the first walkout will update their growing followers on ongoing plans through social media platforms and debrief meetings.

As of right now, the goal is to brainstorm ideas and comb through the details of the April 20 walkout. Countless members of the student body have signed up to speak at the walkout, and state representatives as well as media outlets are being contacted to confirm their attendance. At the end of all this, the student body of Leesville Road High School hopes to raise awareness on the pressing issue and push for pieces of legislation to prevent gun violence at our school.

 

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