This Wednesday at 10 a.m., Lake Forest High School students will have the opportunity to walk out of class in solidarity with the students, victims, and entire community of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Because of the safety implications involved in leaving the secure building during school hours, our administration has intervened by sanctioning the event with faculty supervision, both inside the Commons and cafeteria (for those who choose not to walk out) and on the front lawn (for those who do). However, the school’s decision to implement these policies and procedures has caused students to react in varying ways.
Some Lake Forest High School students think that by acknowledging the walkout prior to the event taking place, the school has diluted the purpose of the event and its meaning as a demonstration. They feel as if the protest aspect of the walkout has been taken away from students and that, with supervision and specific organization, it’s not as exciting. But I can assure you that this is not the case. If you are planning to walk out but feel this way, know that what you are doing is meaningful and the message will still be loud and clear when you stand on the front lawn in silence for seventeen minutes with your fellow classmates. Senior David Tanna says, “I think that this is a really good way of showing support for the tragedy and a good way to show people in general that students have a voice and care about our nation as whole.”
On the other hand, some students feel conflicted. One student, who asked to remain anonymous, told me that they believe the walkout is an organized response to gun violence. Because of that, they don’t want to display their stance on the topic for their peers to see. Furthermore, Lake Forest students who do not want to walk out are worried they will be judged for their decision, insofar as the majority of the student body will elect to walkout. Some may go as far in saying the sanctioning of the walk out is “dumb”, “blows the situation out of proportion”, and that students are being “forced to walk out.” For students who feel this way, understand that the school is only intervening because they care about the safety of the student body and in turn have made the Commons and cafeteria a place for you to go because they support any decision you make. Lake Forest High School has always been a place that advocates for individuality and the freedom to make your own choices. It is my belief that this walkout does not disrupt this and the school will support any decision you may make.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that many students believe that the walkout has political ties and thus has gained dissent and disconnect from the student body. I’d be lying whether I said it doesn’t have any political undertones or if I said it is completely, one-hundred percent politically charged. How you view it is up to you. There will be students who make political demonstrations on the front lawn, and there will be students who remain silent, electing only to support the seventeen students who lost their lives. Regardless of your stance on gun control, arming teachers, or other growing political issues, you can still walk out to honor the victims. Don’t let your political stance on this issue affect your judgement on doing what you believe is morally right.
This situation is not black or white; it is a unique, nationwide event we are experiencing–the first in LFHS history. I am of the belief that we should embrace the walkout and let students speak their minds in whatever way they see fit. Whatever you do decide to do on Wednesday at 10 a.m., don’t let anyone else make the decision for you.