In the aftermath of a school shooting in Nashville that left six dead March 27, students across the United States walked out of their classrooms around noon local time.
The organization Students Demand Action, helped organize the walkouts Wednesday, April 5, by providing information about the toll of gun violence in schools. According to the organization, there have been 33 school shooting incidents as of March 27, which have left eight dead and 25 injured.
The protests were organized to raise the issues about the lack of gun control and the impact it can have on students when gun violence affects them inside or outside the classroom. Wylie ISD students, along with several others across North Texas including Dallas and Garland ISDs, left their classrooms at noon.
Adam Kotrla, 17, a senior at Wylie High School said he first heard about the planned walkout April 5 from a friend and did his research into Students Demand Action and the platform he would be taking. Once he knew he would participate, he informed the school’s principal, Brian Alexander, that he and other students would be participating in the national event.
Personally, Adam said it was important to send a message to lawmakers from students because of their unique perspective on the issue, adding that he did not want to undermine the efficacy of the protest by sitting out.
“These kind of events need large amounts of support, large amounts of people to garner publicity for this cause,” Adam said. “If not enough people do it, it just dies down. I felt a personal responsibility to contribute to that fire.”
When students at Wylie High left the building at noon, they were equipped with signs and proceeded to walk around the campus twice chanting along the way. During their time out of school, each student participating in the protest received an absence for the class period before they returned to class at 12:40 p.m., which was the beginning of lunch, said Adam.
He added that he made 10 signs for he and his classmates because he wanted to make sure the event was organized.
“My role in the protest was mainly fueled by a desire for it to be organized,” Adam said. “I didn’t want it to die out, and I didn’t want it to be an unorganized mess for students who didn’t know what they were doing. I felt a responsibility to make a lot of signs so we could effectively share our message and to reach out to our administration and news stations to do this protest in the right way.”
Adam also emphasized that all students protesting complied with school policies for the duration of their 40-minute walkout. Although there may not be a future walkout planned, Adam said Alexander is reaching out to state representatives to share his students’ perspective on gun violence and how it affects them.
Additionally, Adam said it is important to understand where the students are coming from and not judge them without learning more about why they believe in the message they stood up for.
“If anybody has been on social media, you will have seen a lot of positive and negative comments about the walkouts,” Adam said. “I would say to not make generalizations about groups of people if you haven’t talked to them. Lots of people were labeling this walkout with a variety of labels without even talking to them.”
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