^^^ Check out our video coverage of the event above! ^^^
By Sarah Patterson and Asher Leukhardt
March 14, 2018
On March 14, 2018, Seaholm students endured frigid conditions and walked out of school and onto Maple Field, as a part of nationwide protests. The protests come in wake of the Parkland, Florida Attack last month that cost 17 people their lives and has since sparked a fight to strengthen gun control and school security.
The shooting fomented protests across the nation, inspired originally by the student activism that began in Parkland immediately succeeding the attack.
National organizers chose March 14, marking a month since the tragedy, to hold student walkouts campaigning for gun control and student safety in schools.
Seaholm’s walkout, which was mainly coordinated by students, comprised of exiting class at 10 A.M. (the same as other schools in EST), a brief walk around the football field, a reading of the victims’ names and a moment of silence.
Students believe that the most important part of the protests was specifically to amplify students’ voices.
“If we don’t talk about this, nothing’s going to change,” said junior Keely O’keefe. “It is so disappointing that our school is ignoring it [gun control and student safety] because it needs to be talked about because it affecting our lives… we could lose our lives at any moment and that is so scary.”
Though the majority of students participated in the event, there were some who eschewed it and opted out of participating.
“I thought the message was kind of confused,” senior Cameron Tait said. “I felt like I wasn’t really passionate enough with the movement.”
Others cited a desire to remain apolitical as a motivation to stay inside.
Some who stayed in said that they support the cause, but they have other reasons for eschewing the protests.
“I think it’s a good thing [the movement],” freshman Max Hershey said. “I feel like it will be much better for everybody to have way more gun control in the school environment.”
The protest’s purpose was, partially, to highlight the power and importance of a student’s voice in shaping government policy pertaining to them. Some students don’t perceive their voices as heard and look to the protest as a vehicle for their amplification.
Seaholm and district administration played a role in shaping and preparing for the protests, which has drawn much scrutiny from students.
Students walk out while Birmingham Police officers remain a presence at the Lincoln Doors- Photo by Asher Leukhardt
When the school inserted itself into the event planning process, they decided to guide students out of the pool doors and onto the football field for a short presentation. This intervention led student organizers to share instructions on Instagram about participating in a walkout through the Lincoln doors instead, in an effort to repudiate the school-sanctioned event and to keep their voices prominent.
This direction prompted Birmingham Police, school security, District superintendent Dr. Daniel Nerad, and Seaholm principal Kyle Hall, to congregate around the exit, telling students not to exit there. Hall said that their presence was only to dissuade students from forming a less- controlled demonstration, and that they would’ve, to no degree, used force. Uniformed police officers were also present near Maple Field.
The administration’s authority in this matter was upsetting to senior Sarah Stucker, who believes that school authorities imposed themselves unjustly upon the protest.
“The protest was supposed to be about the student… but no,” Stucker said. “They [Seaholm Administration] decided to take it into the hands of the administration, which takes away the point of the student-led walkout, and it leaves me feeling like I don’t have that much of a voice when it comes to my rights as a student.”
The objective of the national protests was largely to call for better gun laws that will prevent such a tragedy in the future, a sentiment backed by many of the protest’s participants.
Some students, including junior Mandy Robinson, were disappointed with the outcome of the protest and hoped for more.
“I’m just excited that the next generation of voters and students are participating in civil disobedience… and I wish today that we could’ve done more— we should’ve done more— and I’m just excited to see what happens,” said, junior Mandy Robinson said, joking, “God forbid we piss anyone off though.”
For more in-depth coverage of the walkouts, other Seaholm news, satire and more, check out the latest edition of the Highlander when it releases on March 30.