Roosevelt’s School Walkout: A Student Perspective
POSTED March 21, 2018
On March 14th, exactly one month after the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, a national event occurred calling for students everywhere to do a school walkout as a way to show support and as a political gesture calling for gun reform. Roosevelt High School took a different approach. Rather than making a statement about guns, the administration worked with students to come to a compromise that would show support for those affected but remain a-political as to not exclude anyone’s beliefs. We all agree something has to be done, we don’t all agree on what that something is just yet. Whether it’s banning all guns, arming all teachers, or something in between, everyone can stand behind the idea that these atrocities shouldn’t be happening.
Around 1,500 students showed up to the voluntary event that started by walking out of the school and circling around to the gym for a presentation in which students stood behind photos of 17 victims of the Florida shooting and described details of the lives lost. Many students were touched by the movement such as Thomas Leffring, a sophomore at Roosevelt High, who when asked how he felt about the event he stated, “I feel like a lot of care and respect went into this much like the school as a whole.” When asked if he thought an event like this will make an impact he said, “I think it will, but it will take some time. This is an emotional time for many.” Thomas left some words of inspiration, saying, “Right now we just have to keep moving forward.”
Around the nation many schools chose to do “17 minutes of silence” where students would leave school in honor of the 17 who lost their lives. Many local Sioux Falls district schools chose to do 17 seconds of silence. This was not present at Roosevelt’s event. When students were asked about the absence of this demonstration, many said they felt surprised, Sophomore Katelyn Privett was among them, “I was surprised, I was expecting us to do it but I don’t make the rules.”
Many saw the event as a call to action, to get something done and to have the student body’s voices heard. Dylan Larsen is a senior at Roosevelt, and he described how he took the event, “I think that this walk out will show the world that we, as students, are sick and tired of going to school worrying if we will become another statistic in another school shooting, losing more and more lives. This is going to show our government that something needs to be done, and I hope that our politicians will see this and become more diligent in seeking change.”
Roosevelt’s demonstration was meant to be a-political, meaning everyone had their own reasons for marching. The Nationalist asked many students why they were marching, many told us they were marching in support for the families of the victims, some said it was an attempt to bring attention to the issue, however most people claimed it was a cry for safety in schools. Brenna Stevens said, “I’m walking for the future. The future generations need this so they aren’t scared in an environment considered to be a safe haven.”
The theme of the event on Wednesday was school unity, not politics. Many chose to stay in class, and a few even stood in front of the school in their own demonstration. However, for those who attended the student-led event, the consensus was mostly positive. Emily Gullickson, a freshman here at Roosevelt, said, “I’m just glad we came together, we had our minds as one.”