Students Voice Concerns About Safety

Students Voice Concerns About Safety

The three editorials below reflect the thoughts of students in response to school shooting in Parkland, FL, and the ensuing national debate about gun control, first amendment rights to protest, and school security.  We ask that any comments be very respectful and kind in tone.  Ultimately, we all want the same outcomes, even if we differ in the steps we believe are necessary to achieve them.  Thank you!  

Standing Up

by Elisa Houser

On March 14th at 10 o’clock, I stood up from my seat in the middle of class and quietly gave my teacher a note that gave me permission to leave the school. She did not question my actions but simply asked where I would be and let me leave. I left through the front doors with only one other student from my school but also thousands of others from all over the nation. We stood on the front lawn for seventeen minutes in honor the students killed in Stoneman Douglas.

I understood that leaving the building could result in consequences and I fully accepted the fact, but I did do whatever I could do to minimize the punishment. My mother gave me a signed note that gave me her permission to leave the building and I did not leave school grounds. I did not get punished, nor did the other student who walked out, although I knew and accepted the possibility that I might have been.

The walk-out was not only to honor the seventeen students killed in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, but to take a stand against continuing school violence. To me, it was also a way to get the attention of the adults in not only my life but every adult in the nation because not enough are paying attention. Children as young as six years old are being massacred in their classrooms along with their brothers, sisters, and friends, and have been for decades. In response to the violence that isn’t being dealt with, students are going to take the matter into their own hands: walking out is just the beginning. We are going to have to do something because right now there isn’t anyone solving this problem.

If adults don’t start doing something to help keep us from being the next victim of a school shooting, we will start to help ourselves and then it might be more than a walk out.

They say we don’t understand, that we can’t make these decisions, that we are just too young to comprehend what is happening to us. Well, I disagree,: I know very well what is going on. Students around the nation are worrying about whether they should hide in the closet or under the table. We walked out because we need change and we need it now.


 I Walked Out

by Keltsie Francis

I walked out on March 14th at 10:00.  Although walking out of classes (and the school building itself) would normally be punishable, the walkout was to recognize the seventeen children who died in a school shooting.

Some have questioned the act of taking some class time to discuss school violence, but teachers have full right to discuss this in classes. It is sad that this is the place where it has to be discussed and noticed, but where else are we going to do it? A school building is a place of safety and protection, so I fully support parents who feel their children should be kept home when there are threats. In addition, some are upset there weren’t punishments, but to respect those killed with a short seventeen minutes of peaceful protest should not be a reason to punish a student. The governor of New York recommended that schools not punish students taking part in this walkout.

Some who opposed the walkout did not like that one reason was to ask for more effective gun control regulations.  The 2nd amendment was created to support militias, those who served for our country, not so people could use it as an excuse to have a personal arsenal. And if having guns is so important, one can get the required background check or any other requirements that are coming in the future. And if you truly have no negative background, then you’re fine. 

It isn’t impossible to get a gun, and no one is taking them from us. This movement is simply to make it so people who have a questionable background cannot get a gun. It should not be this much of an issue or debate, as it is for safety precautions because we now live in a world where we can never be 100% safe anywhere, so we can only do what is in our power. Complaining because it is a bit harder to get a gun is not helping at all.

I can understand the argument that it will now be more difficult to protect ourselves, but again, it will not be impossible to get guns, as long as your background is clean. And some may say “if it’s still possible, that means a shooter can still get a gun as well,” but in reality, if background checks are thorough enough, then it will be less likely.

The walkouts were necessary and I believe they helped spread awareness. We will one day make it known how much we need to pass laws to help protect us from mass shootings.


Why I Don’t Agree With the Walk Out

by Ashley Estabrook

On Wednesday, March 14, thousands of students left class and took the streets for 17 minutes to protest gun violence, and it is also being coupled with the 17 students shot and killed in Parkland. 3 students at Belfast participated in this, and stood on the front lawn of the school for 17 minutes at 10 o’clock. Like with every story, there are  sides. And I am here to speak on behalf of mine. I, along with many people, disagree with the actions of these students, and the movement as a whole.

To be clear, I am not against the right for any American citizen to peacefully protest, nor do I believe that we shouldn’t remember and show respect for not only the 17 that died then, but also for everyone who has died in the confines of a school. This being said, I do believe that this was not simply for the 17 that died. It is very evident that this walk out piggybacked on those students death in order to push the agenda of anti-gun laws, which is very gross and exploitative.

Peaceful protest is something that I support, but I also believe that there is a time and place for everything. And I do not believe that the time or place for this protest was during class, outside of the school without adult supervision. I take issue with the choice of 3 of our kids to do this because, last year a classmate of mine went outside the school before class to grab his lab, and was back in the school roughly 5 minutes later. Well, this person was reprimanded and received 2 days of in school suspension because ‘the school is responsible for him.’ The three Belfast students who participated in this walk out we’re did not only leave during their lessons for 17 minutes, but they were completely unsupervised by school personnel. And when they came back into the building, they were not met with punishments of any kind. So, if one of the kids were to accidentally get hurt or do anything bad, the school would have been in trouble for not supervising the children.

Do I think that an adult should have gone out with them? No. I do think, though, that there should be some punishment for leaving the building. There has been the argument that kids have every right to protest, just like adults do. This is very true, and a privilege of being an American citizen, but back again to the time and place.

For example, imagine that you walked out of work when you were supposed to be doing your job, then came back in the building a time later. It would be very ignorant for you to expect not to be a.) in trouble with your boss or even b.) fired completely. This is how the world works.

From reading the official announcement issued by the school, I am led to believe that their course of action was in an effort to not make people feel like they didn’t have a voice, or they didn’t want backlash from parents. Also in that statement, the students that walked out were given other options that were very positive and humble that didn’t involve breaking the school’s rules. These include observing 17 minutes of silence and walking up to 14 students and 3 teachers and complimenting them. Similar offenses deserve similar punishment, and at Belfast, this was a truth that was not fulfilled. That is one reason why I disagree with the protesters.

Another reason that I disagree with this is because, though I believe school violence is something that needs to be solved, you can’t blame an inanimate object for anybody else’s decision on how to use it. Using the tragedy at Parkland to support stricter gun-laws would be like using cases of deaths in drunk driving accidents to try to push anti-car laws or anti-alcohol laws. Using guns as a scapegoat for these deaths because we as a society don’t want to throw all of the blame on an obviously disturbed young adult with a rough past for murders that he himself committed.

Many people think that changing gun laws will stop tragedies like this from happening, and that is the farthest thing from the truth. I personally would not want an assault rifle, but there are people who use them for recreation, and to protect their families, and I would never condone stepping on people’s second amendment right. If the government restricts guns, that is not going to matter. School shooters aren’t your average, everyday, law-abiding citizen. They are despicable criminals, set on killing. These people are not going to follow any rules that we put in place. They will just find a new way of going about it. If someone wants people dead, there are countless ways of going about it, like cutting open a gas line, or making a pipe bomb. As long as there are people, there will be people who kill people. That is part of human nature. Am I saying that I would ever think that killing another living, breathing person is okay? No. But, I am saying that you can’t blame an object on a decision made by a person.

A third reason that I disagree with the protest is that nothing was accomplished. Especially at Belfast. Because really, what did 17 minutes of standing still in the freezing cold really do? It honestly didn’t really do anything. I love the fact that in America, you can stand for whatever you believe in, like what I am doing now, and what they did then. But, I feel that if those students really believe there is a problem, that there are courses of action that would be far more helpful. They could have spent 17 minutes writing to state or federal law makers, they could write papers about how they feel, they could try to get support for the cause from their classmates.

The fourth reason that I disagree with the actions of those students is that, they were preaching to the wrong crowd. The administration is already taking massive steps and planning some huge changes for our school. So, protesting out here, where we are making changes, doesn’t really have much effect or resonance.

We live in a society where only one side of every argument is reported on, and all the other side ever gets is belittlement. We draw our lines straight down the middle, and anyone who isn’t on the same side of the line as you is automatically ignorant and wrong, both conservatives and liberals do this. We need to stop doing this. We need to stop blindly following political parties and the propaganda that both sides spew. Let’s make up our own minds. Do research that goes farther than the confines of click-bait articles and 9 ‘o’clock news. Not to say that the three who did this didn’t do research (they very well may have, I’m not certain.)  What I have written is very thought out and I stand fully behind this. So, whether or not you agree with this piece is entirely up to you. Just make sure that you do your homework before you make that decision, whatever that decision may be.