Hundreds of rain-soaked shoes stood pointed in a united direction as one voice in solitude erupted into chants for change.
On Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m., a procession of MC students made their way out of the normally closed-off front gates as they marched to the grass area in the front of the school. Staff looked on as the students exited continuously guarded front gates. Police and an arrangement of parents and local news reporters gazed silently at the crowd centered around a single movement. There was no struggle between the protectors and the protected, as was true throughout the nation as thousands of students took part in the walkout intending to place further pressure on lawmakers, by speaking out against gun violence.
After the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland FL, student protesters have spent relentless days outside the state capital building demanding stricter gun control. Success came in the form of a new state bill that changed the age to purchase a firearm to 21 in Florida.
Yet, after no new legislation at the national level appeared, it has become more prevalent than ever that students involved intend to use their voices to speak up about issues that affect them personally.
“This is a national issue at this point and there are a lot of things not being done by adults, there’s just a lot of talk but not a lot of action,” MC senior Alice Tran said. “It’s up to us [students] to make change and do what we can do. We can’t vote yet so we need to put all of our efforts into spreading awareness.”
In the past 20 years, school shootings have become a steadily recurring event in the nation.
“At this point, it’s sad we’re not as hurt by shootings as we should be because we grew up in an era where [shootings are] an often occurrence,” Tran said. “I’m sad, but I didn’t cry about it, and that’s sad.”
The 1999 Columbine high school shooting introduced the nation to a new era of violence.
“It’s post-Columbine,” MC senior Kelly Chase said. “We haven’t lived in a world where that hasn’t happened. It’s always been after Columbine.”
After the nation-wide walkout, students have mixed emotions as to the true impact teenagers can have on legislation.
“I almost feel like nothing will happen,” Chase said. “If nothing happened after Sandy Hook, after little innocent children were killed, I feel like nothing will happen, but I’m hopeful that things will change.”
Others view this event as a calling to the future, when a new generation will hold the power to change the world into one with greater restraints.
“I think that it’s mostly high school students that are taking part in this and we’re all going to be grown up soon,” Tran said. “We are the future, and if [the current older generation] doesn’t do anything about it, then we’re going to do something about it.”
More than ever, it appears that the youth are working to become a powerful force in the eyes of the government.
“I think this will elicit change and give a new view on teenagers,” MC senior Jenna Bautista said. “[Teenagers] are known for being very nonchalant when it comes to politics but now we are being active. Hopefully it will actually change legislation and also show adults that teenagers and now actually getting involved politically more than ever.”
The hope that this walkout may lead to direct improvement in the surrounding community is another incentive driving students to get involved in this national movement.
“I want to make a positive change to our school community and help increase the safety that the Poway Unified School District enforces involving students,” MC sophomore Randy Bach said. “Many people have the mentality that I do that one person can make a change and therefore all of them added together will make a change. We’ll stand up and show [the government] that we have a voice, too.”
At the MC walk-out, several speakers stood firmly as they spoke to their fellow student body about political activism and the importance of being involved in any way possible to bring an end to unnecessary gun violence.
“We [Social Justice Club] decided as a group that it would be best for MC to show their support with civic engagement and exercising their first amendment rights by protesting current nationwide gun laws,” MC senior and President of Social Justice Club Anika Dandekar said. “It means a lot to me that a lot of people showed up because it’s in the interest of public safety just to prevent things like this from ever happening again.”
Because of the unpredictability of school shootings, these events have the potential to impact students everywhere, one of the reasons some students at MC are advocating for the reform of current gun control laws.
“There hasn’t been so much support for gun control before people our age started getting involved,” Dandekar said. “That’s why it means so much to us [students]. We could be victims just like the victims of Parkland. It’s important that we step up and stand up for ourselves.”
As an individual with the chance to speak out, Dandekar used her time addressing the crowd about the topic of activism and what the high schooler can really achieve in the world of politics.
“In my speech I was trying to put across what people in high school can do,” Dandekar said. “If [students are] 18, they can vote for state legislature and Congress, and if people are younger than 18, they can still volunteer for campaigns and support candidates. We need to put this momentum into tangible action. I just wanted people to know that there is something they can do at this age.”
As the students of the nation begin to unite as an unbreakable front in the political battle for stricter gun control laws, the rest of the world can only look on and watch out: teenagers have established their power, and it will only accelerate as their movement gains momentum.