High school students have proven over the past two months that they will be the change they want to see in the world, getting up out of class to change the world themselves.
Friday morning, thousands of students across the country walked out of class at 10 am in their timezone to peacefully protest US gun violence. April 20th's walkout, responding to the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL, also marks the 19 year anniversary of the Columbine shooting in 1999. The students that took part in today's events insist that senators and representatives across political parties stop taking donations from the NRA and start voting for bills demanding stricter gun safety laws in order to gain the vote of a rising generation of voters come the November 6th mid-term elections.
While this event centers around school gun violence in America, which has seen over 7,000 children killed by guns since Sandy Hook only 5 years ago, it also focuses on the disproportionate amount of racial minorities falling victim to gun violence, aligned itself directly with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Students in Ridgefield were monumental in today's events. In fact, there would not have been a #NationalWalkoutDay to begin with if it were not for 16-year-old RHS student, Lane Murdock, who came up with the idea for an April 20th walkout after the Parkland shooting. Her idea went viral, and she has been working hard with other RHS student organizers ever since.
RHS's walkout commenced with students marching onto Tiger Hollow, holding up signs and wearing orange in solidarity, but most notably talking and laughing with one another as they walked onto the field. Students brought blankets to lay out on, others had bubble machines - it was clear that this was an event run by kids finding themselves in a very grown-up position.
The crowd quieted down as Lane Murdock and Paul Kim, two of the day's student organizers, got up to speak about the afternoon ahead. Kim introduced Senator Richard Blumenthal, who spoke to the students about their power as citizens and advocates. "What you are doing today is a historic step: speaking truth to power," he said to the students on the lawn before him, "I want to thank you for this step and every other step you will take. Today and every day going forward, the lesson on democracy that you are giving us, says, 'Not. One. More.'".
For the remainder of the afternoon, students had lunch, registered to vote, and had the opportunity to make speeches to their classmates, before being dismissed from school as usual. As National Walkout Day comes to a close, it is clear that this is not the end of the fight for fun safety for these Ridgefield students and for thousands of students in America, as they continue to advocate for the lives of themselves and their classmates all the way to the voting polls this fall.