By Abbi Berry
Public Relations Manager
One month ago, I was at a youth group convention in Orlando, Florida, as I walked up to a distraught peer. She stared at the ground as she told me and another friend that a shooting was happening 10 minutes away from her house at a high school her closest friends attend. I later learned my roommate from camp was hiding in a closet, listening to gun shots permeate the fear-filled silence, praying she would get out alive.
The shooting, only a few hours south from where we were, took 17 lives. This was not the first time our country stood in shock as a shooter infiltrated a school and brutally murdered innocent people.
And today students and teachers across the country joined together to walk out and stand up for every single life that has been unjustly taken, from Columbine to Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook and now Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Today’s walkout was meant to celebrate those lives that were lost and mobilize teen leaders to defend their safety. Participants gathered to mourn those who died, to call for gun reform, and to cultivate a community of solidarity and respect for school wide safety. I looked forward to knowing that regardless of political differences, we, as a student body, could come together to take a stand on this incredibly pertinent issue.
But upon attending the event, I was alarmed and disappointed by the disrespect I saw there. No more than 300 students showed up and among those, a few came to counter-protest. On a day that was meant to honor lives, I hoped that students would at least respect that sentiment. Yes, the First Amendment defends your right to free speech, but your insensitivity to the purpose of the walkout did not go unnoticed. I find it ironic that a few counter-protesters wore American flags, as if it is inherently American to disrespect fallen lives and to fight for the right to shoot up schools. If so, I’d consider myself disappointed to be both a Wildcat and an American.
To the students who showed up to the Walkout dressed in a “Hillary for prison” t-shirt, covering your faces with “Don’t tread on me” bandanas, hiding under an American flag, and holding a poster reading “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” these questions are for you:
Are you not acknowledging the fact that your peers and teachers at LGHS and students across the country are fearful to go to school and only want to feel safe in a learning institution?
Are you denying that school shootings are an issue our country needs a solution to?
Are you sacrificing your safety? Our safety?
Are you marginalizing the lost lives?
Are you looking for a reaction? Are the lives lost, the heartbreak, the tears, the intense fear, the pervasive nightmares not important?
To LGHS students in general:
How is it that we get more students to come out and support the football team than we did to stand for school safety?
Why does it matter if it’s during tutorial or not when the purpose is still the same?
I want to believe that our high school is better than this. I want to believe that I go to school with people who respect one another and our safety. But knowing that my peers would rather stay inside and do their homework or protest against our collective safety than stand together to promote safety in schools, I no longer feel secure or proud to go to Los Gatos High School.