LCHS students walk out and up
Depending on who you ask, last Wednesday’s event at Lumpkin County High School was either a “walk out” or a “walk up.”
Some students said they were definitely walking out. Fed up with gun violence, and looking to honor the memory of the 17 students who lost their lives in the tragic mass-shooting in Parkland, Fla., they wanted to make a statement.
“A lot of us are doing it to hopefully show politicians and other people that we have a voice that wants to be heard and that not all of us are quote ‘dumb teenagers that eat tide pods,’” said senior Grace Jacobs. “We want to be safe at school. That’s why we’re doing it.”
Meanwhile school administrators were more inclined to call it a walk up, as it was touted as a chance to remember the victims while encouraging students to show kindness to 17 strangers.
“This is a walk up to the flag pole,” stated the intercom announcements right before the event. “Not a walk out of school.”
The National School Walkout was initially a call to action by Women’s March Youth EMPOWER imploring “students, teachers, school administrators, parents and allies to take part in a [walkout] for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. across every time zone…to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”
Lumpkin County High School faculty members caught wind of the local version of the walk-out weeks earlier on Snapchat. But instead of trying to fight it, as some school districts did, they chose to redirect it.
“We wanted to ensure our students had an opportunity to participate if they chose to do so, but in a safe and controlled manner,” said Superintendent Rob Brown. “I am proud that our building principals took this opportunity to encourage our students to also walk-up to someone they didn't know and to make a new friend."
Regardless of conflicting definitions, the event was ultimately amiable and peaceful.
At exactly 10 a.m. approximately 150 students filed out the front doors.
Some saluted the flag.
Some stood silently.
Others quietly chatted.
Others not so quietly.
Eventually a call came over the intercom for a moment of silence to honor the 17.
Every student stood together, hands held and heads bowed.
Junior Alyssa Perez described the event as “amazing.”
“I wasn’t expecting such a big turnout,” she said. “And I thought it was great how we came together and held hands. It showed that we were all united and all believed in the same thing.”
Once the moment of silence was over, the students walked back through the doors and into class.
Meanwhile, Jacobs said she hopes that the event, and similar events held across the nation, will lead to real change for a life or death issue.
“We wanted to do this because we have voices that want and need to be heard,” she said. “We want to make a difference and we don’t want to go to school wondering if we’re going to be next. We don’t want to be scared to go to school.”