Hebron News

Students Share Viewpoints on National Walkout

At Mt. Hebron High School, students gathered to hear speakers talk about gun control and safety in schools. One month after the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students across the nation took action against gun violence and walked out of their schools at 10:00 A.M. on March 14. The protests lasted 17 minutes, each minute representing one of the lives lost in the shooting.

The National Student Walkout was a unifying gesture to honor those who died from the recent school shooting in Florida as well as other school shootings from the past.  The Mountain staff spoke to students and staff members who participated in the walkout.  Their responses are compiled below.

Why are you participating in this walkout?

“I believe that students should be able to go to school without having to worry about being shot at or dying.” — Julia Noppenberger, 10

“I am here today to show that we feel sorry for the kids in Florida and how gun control and background checks should be increased. I believe the walkout should have been in the front of the school instead of the back of the school to show the outside world that the students agree with it.” — Omar Kmir, 10

“I think that there needs to be a change in something. I don’t know enough about gun laws to suggest ideas, but I support all of the victims and their families, and I’m there for everyone even if we are in completely different states.” — Alexa Welsh, 12

“I’m participating in this walkout for something as simple as just having safety in school and avoiding violence at all costs. I think just coming out and protesting is the number one thing to do. Teachers talking about it with students and having assemblies, I think, should be the first approach. At this point in 2018, it’s probably the first, because something like having 17 people shot and killed, that should be our number one concern at this point.” — Alex Nazaire, 12

“[The protest shows] our solidarity behind the victims and the survivors. I think it’s really important that we as students come together this way.” — Veronica Kim, 10

How do you feel about some of the measures, including arming school staff members, that lawmakers have proposed to keep students safe?

“I think arming staff members is the worst idea ever. I think more guns in a school environment is an issue. I’ve never had a teacher that I trust to use a weapon.” — Mason Gainer, 12

“I think [teachers] should teach us more about ways to keep us safe and to have teachers do more instruction on school safety.” — Haley Miller, 9

“There are so many things that we could do to increase safety in schools, like metal detectors and things, but having assemblies and spreading awareness, just to give the messages that they show and post on social media, that’s such a big step that doesn’t really cost any money.” — Kaia Godsey, 11

How do you feel about HCPSS supporting the students in this protest?

“Today, they essentially just gave us a 17-minute recess period by telling us that we could leave if we wanted to. I think it’s interesting that they were so kind and gracious to allow us to protest. If I wanted to protest, I would have done it regardless of whether they told me I could or not.” — Lorelei Lorraine, 10

 “When the teachers and administration started getting involved and when they planned the school day around the walkout, it started taking away from the whole purpose of the walkout because it is no longer student-based but now almost being advertised as a school event. The purpose was defeated even more after Howard County Public Schools stated that if students participated in the walkout they would not face punishment, which is the whole point of a walkout — to be rebellious when you want something to change — and it just isn’t the case for this walkout. I still chose to support the walkout, though, because I feel like it is right no matter how much the county and administration get involved.” — Paul Kim, 10

“I like them supporting it. I’d rather them support it rather than punish us for doing this.” — Ally DeBels, 10

“It’s good that they’re supporting it, but I feel like they could’ve backed off a bit and let the students run it themselves. I feel like it has more of a meaning when students run it whereas if we’re being coddled by HCPSS. But I think it’s great that they’re supporting it.” –Lara Abedin, 10

“[School systems reprimanding their students for walking out] is messed up. Students should be able to do what they want. The schools shouldn’t hold them back from protesting. That’s like one of our First Amendments.” — Nandu Saravanan, 10

“I think this is a really beautiful demonstration. The school system should be really appreciated for doing this.” — Ana Mosisa, 10

“I’ve heard some people say that the school supporting the walkout is bad because it’s supposed to be against authority, but I feel like it’s a good nod to show that the school system supports the fact that school shootings are bad. The system should take the opinions of students into account and use that to enact policy that will prevent further shootings.” — Nick Jackson, 12

Mt. Hebron Staff Comments:

“[Arming teachers] is an awful idea. Some teachers are very uncomfortable with weapons, and some are [comfortable] so if you have a teacher who’s already experienced with weapons, that’s no problem. But to take thousands of millions of people that maybe are not comfortable with weapons and say, ‘You now have to carry a weapon,’ that’s asking for more problems. Now, what if you have a gun go off accidentally? What if you have a student who gets a hold of a staff member’s weapon? And once again, you’re forcing people who may not be comfortable with weapons to carry one. It’s a different system in elementary schools. Some of these teachers are 60-year-old ladies. I’m not sure it’s a good solution to have these women, who are retiring in one year and who have probably never shot a gun before in their lives, to carry a weapon. So no, I don’t think that’s a good idea at all.” — MTH staff member

“I think we should have some kind of plan for active shooters and drills. [If there are shooters] in different parts of the building, how does the other half of the building respond? I don’t think a lockdown drill is a good reaction to someone in the building with a gun. I know [Howard County is] probably hesitant and scared to use the term ‘active shooter drill,’ but I think that’s what it needs to be. Because if you’re just in a lockdown drill and there is a shooter, they can shoot right through the door and now they’re shooting into a group of kids just huddled in the classroom. We need to plan those drills, practice those drills, and make the public aware of those drills. It’s a sensitive topic but a realistic topic.” — MTH staff member

“Now is the time for change. If we don’t change now, we won’t change ever.” — English teacher Mr. Matthew Barth.

 “[The productivity of the march] depends on how it’s being presented. If there are pictures and media coverage and so on and so forth, then absolutely.” –MTH staff member

“You guys have got to take a stand. It’s not just the adults that have a stand. I’m proud of you guys for being able to stand up for yourselves.” — MTH staff member

“I think it’s great that teenagers can express their opinions in a peaceful ‘Let’s get our message out’ kind of way. I’m glad that the county supports students doing things like this, because maybe 15-20 years ago, students maybe have been scolded or gotten in trouble.” — MTH staff member

“It’s nice to see support, but at the same time, I think that they should have done something and released more messages, and maybe started an assembly [  . . . ] so that we could see their messages being spread,” –Laila Greene, 11

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