On March 14, 2018, students across the nation walked out of their classrooms to take a stand against gun violence and let their voices be heard. As the fourteenth marked the one-month anniversary since the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL., thousands of students felt the time was right to honor the victims and rally against violence.
Not only did the walkouts erupt across the United States, but there were walkouts that took place in Cranston - most notably at Cranston High School East. At 10:00 a.m. the student body walked out during homeroom in a peaceful manner. They marched around the school’s main building and also around Cranston City Hall, both located on Park Avenue.
Organized by a group of some of the school’s brightest students, it was planned out and approved by both the school administration and the district administration. The organizers also had the full support of some faculty. Many members of the student body spent hours after school crafting burgundy ribbons for pins and creating posters with strong messages.
Some of the posters held by students read phrases such as “Our School’s Dress Code is More Strict than Gun Laws” and “More Diplomas Less Guns #ENOUGH”. The banner that was paraded at the front of the line of students included the nationwide hashtag of #ENOUGH, with the remainder of the poster reading “Keep Our Schools Safe” and “Cranston East Students demand action to prevent gun violence”.
The banner, designed by senior Nathaniel Hardy, got the message across. Hardy, one of the key people in planning and organizing the event, commented that, “The walkout demonstrated that high school students are not okay with how things are. We don't get to voice our opinions by voting, so this 17 minute walkout was the student body's way of calling for change. I think it sends the message to politicians, both on a local and a national level, that our opinions matter and need to be considered.” The goal was to demand both the state and the nation to initiate change in policies regarding guns, and bring awareness to the violence that ensues as a result of lenient regulations. Although the walkout was quiet with minimum speech spoken, it served the purpose as Cranston students’ voices and beliefs.
Another East senior, Shevanna Yee, also aided in organizing the event. “On behalf of my co-organizers and the student body here at East, we hope our elected officials and politicians are listening,” she stated, “we are their future constituents and our voices and opinions matter.”
Since Parkland, many high school student have been speaking out against laws and regulations pertaining to violent weapons. They have been and continue to be calling for politicians to listen to them and take action against guns. A
senior at East, Hannah Jordan helped to create posters and ribbons prior to the walkout. The cause is for something she wants changed.
“What this walkout meant to me was speaking up for something I firmly believe in—gun reform. My generation is growing up in such a violent world where we can’t even be securely protected in our schools, and I can safely say we are all on the same page that this violence has got to stop,” she exclaimed. The statement that we live in a violent world rings true. According to CBS, people in the U.S. are ten times more likely to be killed by guns than any other high-developed country.
“While the second amendment ensures citizens a right to bear arms, I think reforms can be put in place to try to reduce the gun violence in our country,” Hardy said.
Many of the students, not just at Cranston East but at other schools across the nation, believe there is a solution to this problem. They believe that there should be a ban on assault-style weapons, and background checks prior to purchasing a weapon. Yee stated that “Politics should not have to be brought in to know that what is going on is a huge problem, and that we must be doing more to ensure that lives are not being taken away from another tragedy like this.” There is a solution to fix America’s gun problem, and ‘thoughts and prayers’ is not one.
The students of Cranston High School East and the students of the United States demand change. We want action to take place in ensuring that school shootings, and other gun-related incidents, do not happen again. Massacres in which children, teenagers, and adults alike should not be the norm for our country. Politicians and leaders need to listen to the students and take steps to fix this problem.