Before the walkout
STUDENTS AND STAFF SHARE THEIR VIEWS ON THE WALKOUT AND EXPLAIN THEIR INVOLVEMENT
By Ananya Bhat, Jai Uparkar and Rajas Habbu
On Feb. 14, hundreds of students at Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida, hid under desks and inside cabinets, trembling and fearing for their lives as gunman Nikolas Jacob Cruz terrorized their school. One month later, many of these students and thousands more are walking out of their classrooms for 17 minutes— in honor of the 17 victims of the SDHS shooting— to protest for more gun control.
At MVHS, students organized a walkout by creating a Facebook event, posting on social media and creating posters to spread the word. One of the organizers, senior Kritika Maanavi, explains why she feels it’s important for students to participate in the walkout.
“It could happen here at our school. Someone could come and hurt, maybe me or my friends or my sister who is going to be at this school for the next three years,” Maanavi said. “It’s a very unnerving thing to be like, ‘We're not even safe come to school.’ [...] Anything we can do to help out the Parkland students and help create momentum and help bring attention to this issue — this issue of gun control — is helpful.”
After spending Presidents’ Week break in Florida and watching numerous stories regarding the shooting on the local news, Maanavi decided to help with the organization of the walkout. Determined to do something to support the victims once she returned home, Maanavi immediately began trying to organize a walkout at MVHS. Similarly, sophomore Natasha Lee felt compelled to participate in the walkout after seeing multiple pictures and reactions to the shooting online.
“I stumbled across a bunch of pictures and videos about the shooting,” Lee said. “And then I got angry, really, really angry, because no one is doing anything about kids dying and that made me really angry because it can happen anywhere and no one can stop it.”
Students in leadership also wanted to spread awareness about the issue because of its relevance to students at MVHS, according to FUHSD student board representative Samantha Millar. However, since ASB is associated with the administration, they can’t be involved in organizing activities that disrupt class time, such as a walkout.
Millar describes how it has been especially tricky to understand what leadership and the administration can and can’t do, and admits that at times it has been hard for her to separate her opinions on gun control from her responsibilities as a member of ASB.
“It feels unnatural to kind of detach from that and take your name off of it, even though it's something that you might support from a moral standpoint,” Millar said. “Which feels kind of taxing to do from an emotional standpoint, but I understand why it has to be done.”
Principal April Scott agrees that it is often hard for many members of the administration, including teachers, to detach themselves from their personal beliefs, but acknowledges that as government employees it is their responsibility to be objective and abide by the law.
While some students worry that they will receive consequences for participating in the walkout, Scott assures students that they will not be punished more harshly than if they were to have walked out of class on any other normal day.
Even though consequences may already be set in place, Maanavi and Scott encourage students to participate in the walkout if they truly feel strongly about the issue.
“Right now, we can see kind of like the teens around the country are kind of banding together to create this kind of movement in support for gun control and for me it's just something that's kind of amazing,” Maanavi said. “So if you want to be part of something like that, feel like you've always wanted to be part of something bigger, this is an opportunity for you to do that.”
As an alternative to the walkout and as a way for the leadership class to express their sentiments regarding the walkout, the leadership class decided to host a vigil, which they called the “Never Again Vigil,” and was scheduled to take place at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14.
“We wanted to have the focus of the morning part be more towards remembrance and thinking about how close we are to the victims, how much we can relate, how it could be us,” Millar said.
The vigil was just one of the alternatives offered to students who didn’t want to participate in the walkout, however students could attend the vigil, march, walkout and poster making at MVHS. Students could also wear the color orange, come to poster making sessions and attend the “March for Our Lives” on March 24, in order to show their solidarity. Millar and Maanavi also encourage students to make their voices heard, whether that be through social media, voting, or just speaking up in conversations.
Many hope that this walkout will spark change and make some sort of impact on gun control. Millar hopes that the protest will not only spread awareness but also help to make people feel empowered.
“Something that I always hope that [...] everyone can get out of it is political efficacy,” Millar said. “Giving people the idea of empowerment and the fact that we can make a difference, that one person can make a difference and that the power of voices is enough to create a change, make a wave.”
Lee and Maanavi acknowledge that the walkout may not have the national impact people are looking for, but believe that the issue is important enough that they need to try to make an effort for reforms, regardless of the outcome.
“At the very least we can try and we can say that we tried to help fight this issue and we tried to kind of put forward and support gun control,” Maanavi said.
Although she attended the walkout, sophomore Rukmini Banerjee isn’t fully confident that a demonstration like this will not be the best way to create productive political change, especially in California.
“I don't think [the walkout] will necessarily be productive in the way that it will make a national complete change [...] because California already has pretty strict gun control laws,” Banerjee said. “It's more of a fact of showing solidarity, showing [that] the students of America do not condone this violence. It's not necessarily a way to create productive political change, but its a way to say that we hear these people who want gun control; we stand by them and we stand for them.”
However, she believes that the walkout is a necessary step in creating awareness about gun control. She encourages people to be aware about social issues that plague our country and do their part to help those in need.
“You need to go out and write letters, do something," Banerjee said. “It's not enough to just know about these things, it’s not enough to know — when you hear about these things being spoken about, when you hear about this issues being glossed over, you need to stand up. You need to make people understand the gravity of situations and some people don't get that. These people have a duty, a moral obligation to help people, and no one gets that.”
Enough is enough: During the protest and vigil
MVHS students gather for vigil and walkout to remember school shooting victims
By: Zazu Lippert
#Neveragain: Vigil at brunch
As students were dropped off in the morning at the back of MVHS at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, students from Monta Vista Leadership dressed in orange awaited them, reminding them of the vigil that would take place in the academic quad in five minutes. Upon entering the academic court, they were surrounded by the color orange as they gathered to hear speeches from ASB president Juliane Tsai and principal April Scott to show their support for the victims of school shootings over the years and their communities. The date of the vigil was purposefully chosen to honor those who died in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting exactly one month earlier.
Pictures of victims lined the outer walls of the library, and orange signs encompassed the academic quad with messages such as “Enough is Enough” along with the number 17, representing the 17 victims of the Parkland school shooting.
Tsai began the vigil with her speech, which focused on the lives of the victims and how students can make a difference.
Following Tsai’s speech, principal April Scott discussed the expectation of safety that she believes should always be present at schools, places of worship and at home.
Enough Walkout: 10 to 10:17 a.m.
As the clock struck 10 a.m., students left their classrooms and made their way to the bus circle in front of the school. Many teachers and staff members followed, and some community members even came to stand on the sidewalk just off campus to show their support. Chants of “Enough is enough” and “United, united, we’ll never be divided” sprung up in between speeches by various students, carried through the mic over a sea of students dressed in orange carrying signs saying “We will outlive the NRA! Just watch us,” “Am I next?” and “#Neveragain.”
Leadership holds a vigil to honor those impacted by Florida shooting
An inside look at the Leadership’s role in the vigil
By Carol Lei, Stuti Upadhyay and Anthony Moll
On March 14, exactly one month after the shooting in Parkland, Fl. claimed the life of 17 innocent children, students from all across the nation joined together in walking out of their classes to protest gun violence. The nationwide Walkout began at 10 a.m. and lasted for 17 minutes, one for each of the 17 lives lost. At MVHS, however, students gathered at 9:05 a.m. to attend a vigil organized by Monta Vista leadership.
At the vigil, leadership distributed orange wristbands and ribbons, to represent the color of the anti-gun violence movement. ASB president Juliane Tsai and principal April Scott delivered speeches addressing the victims’ stories and what MV students can do to make a difference. In the video below, three Leadership students share insight about the planning the vigil, what they hoped to accomplish, and how they believe the event went.