The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

WIS students participate in national school walkout


Many students throughout the United States have participated in school walkouts since the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Fla. to honor the victims and protest for stricter gun laws. Prior to the demonstrations, many WIS students were scared to participate since they feared punishment from the administration.

One of the first walkouts took place on March 14 and lasted 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost during the fatal shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The protest began at 10 a.m. and schools all over the country, along with many in the Washington area participated in the walkouts. The rallies were peaceful and symbolic in order to recognize the deaths of the students and their loved ones affected by this tragedy.

Before the walkout, students throughout the school voiced their reluctance to skip class in order to protest for common sense gun reform. Despite their support for better gun control in America, the fear of being punished almost caused some students to not participate, including freshman Sofia Giorgianni.

“I was a bit scared of walking out because I thought there would be a punishment for walking out of class,” Giorgianni said. This came after a meeting between students and administrators which cleared up the confusion and let those interested in walking out know that they would not receive any sort of reprimand.

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While many were hesitant about taking part, other WIS students felt comfortable all along. A lot of students were even willing to face punishment from the school in order to protest for what they believe in and work to improve gun legislation in America.

“I will be doing the school walkout with my friends because I believe there is a problem with guns in the US,” freshman Tatiana Clinton said.

The issue with firearms in our country is not something new as there have been 146 reported school shootings since 2010 and many more since the infamous Columbine shooting in 1999. There have also been countless other mass shootings in recent history, most notably the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, the Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, the Las Vegas attack in 2017 and now the Florida school shooting.

More recently, there was another school walkout on April 20 marking the 19th anniversary of the Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colo. which left 12 students and one teacher dead. The attack brought national attention to the tragedy and started a movement of people of all ages calling for stricter gun laws in America to prevent such heinous mass shootings. Though, since the Parkland school shooting, a wave of young high school students have become the faces of the movement and continue to protest throughout the US.

After First period, WIS students left campus and walked to the Cleveland Park Metro Station. They hopped on a quick train and walked to the White House. Then, they sat on the grass and listened to the names of each Parkland victim read one by one aloud on the loudspeaker. After this, students marched through the city streets until they reached the Capitol Building where various presenters spoke, including students and adults.

Many topics were touched on, including the lives of Latinos and African-Americans along with suicide and other societal issues. Throughout every speech, one overarching issue was constantly talked about: the misuse of firearms in the United States. Though every speaker came with a different message, everyone including the hundreds of students in the crowd believed that there must be changes made to the access and types of guns.

The crowd dwindled and students carried on with their days, but the walkout was nonetheless impactful. We will have to see whether or not these peaceful forms of protest will spur actual changes, though the large numbers of students who left school to protest in downtown DC will definitely be remembered.

As a result of the rise in high school students protesting gun violence, administrators nationwide have threatened to suspend students simply exercising their First Amendment right to petition. In contrast, WIS is supportive of student expression of any form which was shown when they allowed students to participate in the past walkouts and how they support future ones too.

“There’s nothing about a school walkout in protest of what this walkout is, that I believe would cause a student to get in trouble”, said Upper School Dean of Students, Beta Eaton. “We want to honor anyone who participates in this.”

By Anders Westermann


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