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The National Walkout

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by Cyndy Hyatt
This generation of high school students has grown up in a world where school shootings are common and just another event in the news. Although gun violence in schools has lost its shock

value, students still hold in the back of their minds the fear that it can happen here.

Before the Parkland shootings Feb. 14, there had been a recorded 18 school shootings in 2018. And then came the tragedy at Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School where 17 people lost their lives at the hand of a young man with an AR-15 type assault rifle.

After the initial outrage, this story didn’t fade away like the other 18 this year. It was different. Students said ENOUGH and now we are witnessing an unprecedented student initiated movement to end gun violence, a movement that that led to the March 14 ENOUGH walk-out. That Wednesday at 10 a.m. students from coast to coast left their classrooms to join others in solidarity and protest.

Although some schools have threatened to punish students who participated, most seem to have supported this free-speech event. Open-minded administrations worked with student groups to support the walkout. They have recognized that student voices need to be heard and rightfully so.

The walkout appears to have been a successful exercise of First Amendment rights – to peacefully gather and protest, to speak out and to call others into action. And it was another opportunity for student journalists to cover a national event that most likely affected their own school as well.

This year may prove to be the year of the student-led protest and a new appreciation for the power of the First Amendment. And perhaps this will also be the year when students realize the value of uncensored student journalism, a way to hear voices and opinions without persecution or punishment.

 

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