Featured image: Top photo [Rogers H.S.]: Music teacher, Nate Leonard, leading students in song as they re-enter the school. | Bottom photo: Bowsher H.S. students
Last month, 17 high school students and staff members were killed during a school shooting and 17 more were wounded, making it one of the deadliest school shooting massacres in history.
The shooting took place Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, Fla.Now, students across the country are leading protests against gun violence, starting discussions and creating change.
On March 14, students honored the victims of the MSD shooting and participated in a National School Walkout Day.
Thousands of young activists around the United States left their classrooms at 10 a.m. that morning to stand in solidarity with those who have been killed in school shootings.This marks the first major coordinated action of the student-led movement for gun control. Toledo’s own young activists took a stand as well as Toledo Public Schools held their own walkouts.
Bowsher and Rogers High Schools took a proactive approach to this “call to action” by holding group discussions about current topics and sharing suggestions of how students can come together to create change in their own communities.
Students from both schools also spent at least 17 minutes outside to honor the victims of the MSD massacre.
At Bowsher, students were encouraged to wear orange and student council members gave memorial speeches. They also held signs with the names of those killed in school shootings over the past decade and released a balloon for each student killed at MSD.
Principal Terri Sherwood said that the student council organized the event and hundreds of students, Bowsher staff, TPS board members and Superintendent Romules Durant participated.
Student council president Darnell Halsey spoke at the walkout and said that he hopes all students and people in general read about the walkout in the paper or see it on the news and realize that students care and want their school to be a place where all feel safe.
He also said that he feels that the school should provide more social education that could help deter violence.
Rogers’ walkout also harbored student discussion between teachers, staff and the community.
One activity involved 17 students and 17 community leaders creating conversation that covered violence, gun control, self-esteem, safety, and other issues that lead to or prevent school place violence.
Principal Kelly Welch said she thought the community circle gave students the opportunity to express their concerns to adult stakeholders in the community.
The discussion was so powerful that it exceeded the 17 minutes the school had allotted.
Student Mykayla Smith said she feels it is extremely important that students continue to have these group discussions because it builds trust, love and support.
The choir and about 40 other students also walked out to the flag pole to sing several songs that spoke of unity.
Ms. Welch stated that “youth can be leaders in assisting lasting change by being a voice to ensure that schools put support systems in place to help students be successful not only academically but socially and emotionally.”