Students organize walkout to honor shooting victims

During the walkout, a group of students arrived with American flags to support the Second Amendment.

A group of students organized a walkout Friday during activity period to honor the Parkland and Columbine school shooting victims as part of the National School Walkout.

The walkout lasted for 17 minutes, with each minute representing one person killed during the February shooting in Parkland, Florida. During the walkout, students stood on tables and read the names of the Parkland and Columbine victims aloud. Freshman Lauren Taylor organized the event, which was scheduled for the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

It was nice seeing so many people coming out to support the cause.

— Lauren Taylor, 9

“About 25 students showed up, which was much more than I expected, to be honest,” Taylor said. “It was nice seeing so many people coming out to support the cause. We definitely raised awareness in our school and community, making this issue more discussed in the area.”

After reading off the names, another group of students, led by junior Koen Lippke, arrived opposing the walkout and supporting the Second Amendment.

“The general view is all kids want guns banned,” Lippke said. “I don’t feel like that, and I know quite a few people who don’t feel like that. I decided it might be a good idea for us to have a presence there.”

The pro-gun protesters waved American flags and spoke to those walking out.

“They tried to sway us, which wasn’t going to work,” freshman Evely Ludington said. “We weren’t pro-gun control. We were just honoring the people.”

After the Second Amendment supporters arrived, freshman Alyssa Seaton stood on a table and said the walkout was to remember victims of gun violence, not to support gun control.

“Of course, they had their own rights to be there; I’m glad they were there,” Seaton said. “But it seemed like they had showed up about something we had clearly stated it was not about. We were there to remember those who had passed away, and it seemed like they were trying to make it about the gun control. I wanted to remind them that’s not why were were out there.”

There’s no reason to go straight to the gun.

— Koen Lippke, 11

After ABC 7 Amarillo released an article on the walkout, some Facebook commenters wrote students were wasting classtime, walking out to celebrate National Weed Day or forced to participate in something in which they did not believe.

“This was not an excuse to get out of class, because it was during activity period–there was no class time going on,” Taylor said. “This was not mandatory. This wasn’t a walkout for banning guns; it was to remember the victims of Columbine. And it wasn’t an excuse to get high.”

Lippke said to reduce school shootings, schools should punish bullies more harshly.

“In almost all of these instances, these people are bullied,” Lippke said. “Why don’t we start there? There’s no reason to go straight to the gun.”

Sophomore Rylee Higgins said she did not participate in or support the walkout because she felt others around her participated for social gain and popularity.

“I don’t think walking out is the answer,” Higgins said. “They could have done it differently. Walking out of school to support safety just puts themselves in more harm’s way.”

Taylor said she organized the walkout to raise awareness for school safety and those lost to gun violence.

“This goes beyond gun control,” Taylor said. “This is making sure that students have proper resources and to get help for those students who have mental health problems or are being bullied. That way, things like gun violence in schools don’t happen again.”