RB students stand with Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at walk out


Lexi Soto

“Stop the silence, end gun violence.”

Along with the authors of this article, staff members Tatum Bruno, Nyzeth Flecha, Casey Jones, Kassie Ramirez, and John Shay also contributed to this article.

On March 14, Riverside Brookfield High School students participated in the National Walk Out Day to honor the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that occurred on February 14, 2018.

After second period, students walked out of the school and gathered in the Kennelly Athletic Complex (stadium) where the scoreboard was set for 17 minutes and read “#MSDStrong”.

Students were not penalized for walking out, aside from missing their academic activities during the walk out.

“The Administration understands the significance of the event and wholeheartedly supports the students and families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” said RB principal Kristin Smetana in an email sent to parents and guardians prior to the event.

Once the student participants arrived at the stadium, student organizers started by giving speeches on the bleachers, while participants remained on the track. They began by naming the victims of the MSD shooting, so they would not be forgotten.

“We will never forget those who passed away at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on February 14,” said sophomore and student organizer Kenna Howorth during her speech.

As speeches continued, the student organizers called for action and change to ensure the safety of students across the nation.

“I’m tired of senseless acts of violence and evil tragedies occurring in this very country. I also think something needs to be done. I want to focus on the solutions that help our society and end these monstrous acts,” said senior Vaughn Hilpp during his speech.

After the speeches, participants walked one final lap around the field before returning inside. The event lasted around the intended 17 minutes, made to honor the 17 victims. Students were back in class before the end of their third period.

The walk out brought out a large number of the student body, something the student organizers hoped to achieve.

“I hope that [the national walkout] achieved a sense of unity in the youth, and being able to show people that we really do have a powerful voice as the kids of the future nation. We can definitely get things done,” said senior and student organizer Tosi Olowu.

The walk out was optional to the student body, and while some students chose not to participate, about half of the student body insisted their voices be heard.

“I [participated] because I think it is very important to draw attention to how much guns affect us negatively in our country, and I think that being able to stand up and do something about it rather than just talking [makes a difference],” said Olowu.

Other students chose not to participate because they felt it would not offer enough change.

“I agree that the walk out has a good cause and the people have good hearts, but it just isn’t going to accomplish much for the nation in my opinion,” said senior Anthony Walsh. “However, that being said, I think it does accomplish the goal of making sure we don’t forget violence like this is wrong and shouldn’t happen again.”

While the walk out proved to be a significant step towards promoting school safety, students believe this is only one of many ways they can enact change.

“The walk outs are a start, but it definitely shouldn’t end there. We should be able to encourage children to talk to our legislators and not feel scared to talk to the government to get things done,” said Olowu.

Some student participants hope these nationwide walk outs will serve as a wake-up call for the country’s leadership.

“Our children don’t deserve to die in schools, and politicians need to do something about it instead of just sitting there watching, saying they are sorry for like a week, and then not going back and making policy changes,” said senior Cassidy McLernon.

Above all, RB walk out participants hope they sufficiently honored the victims and families immediately impacted by the MSD shooting.

“I hope this lets the victims and the victims’ families know that the whole country and especially RB is standing with them through this hard time,” said senior Emily Graham.