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South High participates in National School Walkout

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Students converge on the football field during walkout.

Students converge on the football field during walkout.

Caylee Clemons

Caylee Clemons

Students converge on the football field during walkout.

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Yesterday, at 10 a.m., dozens of students walked out of their third block class to participate in the National Student Walkout.

Students went to the Commons where they observed a moment of silence and read the names and ages of the victims of the Parkland High School shooting, which happened a month ago. The walkout was led by Lauren Owen, Mary Mikel, Ella Miller, Emmaleah Stapp and Iris Cameron, who made speeches about making change in the world. Miller and Stapp were the ones who initially proposed the idea to Principal Patrice Aitch.

“We tried to make it a remembrance for everyone who died. We wanted to make it as unbiased as possible so everyone could come regardless of their views,” Owen said. “Not everyone agrees on gun control, but everyone agrees that people dying is wrong.”

Owen said she was pleasantly surprised at the turnout, but also said not everyone’s speech went smoothly.

“I was sad to hear people yelling at Mary [Mikel]. They were saying we weren’t doing enough, but we were trying to make it less political so more people could join in and be a part of it,” she said.

Sophomore Xzavea Gillard said he was part of a group who decided to head to the football field after the names were read. He was one of the speakers who decided to direct his thoughts on the people in the crowd at the stadium.

“I addressed the ones who were just there for the Snapchat and Instagram pictures. I told everyone that we should stand with them [victims] and we should speak up. We wanted lives to stop being taken,” said Gillard.

However, Mikel said she wasn’t pleased at all that another group “took over” the walkout.

“I found it disrespectful,” she said. “If they wanted to do something more they could have taken the steps that we did and talked to the right people.”

She thought that overall the presentation went well.

“I thought it was very brave of Emmaleah and Ella to speak to the crowd and I’m very proud of our efforts because I thought it was moving, mature and peaceful,” she said.

Mikel has a response to people who might have thought the group should have walked outside or addressed gun control.

“I think that the support the school gave us was enough. We did what we thought was right because it still was a student atmosphere. We wanted to make it about the children and teachers who have suffered from gun violence and not make it a political statement,” she said.

Freshman Lexi Larson thought this walkout went great.

“I think it went pretty well. However, a lot of kids wanted to skip class or just see what was going to happen,” said Larson.

Many students want the age to buy a gun increased to 21, assault rifles banned, high-capacity magazines banned, and stricter background checks enforced.

Gillard said he wanted to make people listen with his speech. He wanted to address people who might still believe that gun laws are good the way they are.

“I respect your opinion, but I am going to stress my first amendment rights. Maybe you can hear my words and change your mind. Your original goal might be to get out of class, but I want to change your minds,” said Gillard.

Many started chanting, “How many more?” as Gillard left them with his last statement.

“Am I the next to be killed?”

Owen said she had no problem with other students moving the walkout to the football field.

“It wasn’t really a part of what we planned to do, but I respect that they took the initiative to do that,” she said.

Owen said she had some goals she hopes will be accomplished through the National Student Walkout.

“I want people to be more open. We need greater awareness about school-safety and warning signs and need to know more about how school shootings happen,” she said.

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UPDATE WITH VIDEO: Patriots walk out in protest