CAHS students walk out to commemorate Florida shooting victims


Photo credit Kaleigh Strong.

On Valentine’s Day, a 19-year-old boy entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, with a gun and slaughtered 17 students and teachers.

“We can go back to class and be fine, and move on with our lives. They necessarily can’t because it … affects them for the rest of their lives,” senior Kaleigh Strong said.

Students all across the country walked out of their classrooms on March 14 during the school day to remember the lives lost in the Parkland shooting — and to protest for gun reform laws.

At CAHS, that was not exactly the case. A number of students stood up and left class for 17 minutes — one minute for every life lost at Parkland. “I kind of wanted to take that time, even if it was only 17 minutes, to put myself in their shoes,” Strong said.

Students gathered in the back quad. Student members of ASB read a short memorial and released a colored balloon into the sky for every person murdered that day, several of whom died saving others.

The gathering occured on campus due to security concerns and liability issues with students walking off campus. “We came together and were trying to figure out what the best way to honor the victims [was] but also not make a political stance from an ASB perspective … ASB isn’t allowed to … take a stance one way or another,” senior and ASB president Gabby Smith said.

In addition, Smith and other students “wanted to make sure there was an outlet for someone if they wanted to support the walkout but not have to take a political stance.”

However, some students did walk out as a political statement. “While we styled it as a memorial for our school, I think it is important that something happens in the political sphere about gun control, because … right now, there’s nothing important happening in that sphere, and nothing’s changed,” senior Harrison Heyer said.

The idea of a school shooting is a disturbing thought to many students who set foot on any school grounds, particularly high school campuses. Regardless of political beliefs, Strong believes some sort of reevaluation needs to take place. “I have a lot of anxiety about school-related incidents,” Strong said. “I have a lot of fear about something like that ever happening at my school or at my workplace …  so I wanted … my own stand for something that I believe needs to change.”