March 14th, the day of the national student walkout for gun control, students all around the country walked out at 10:00am. This national protest was student led and not many adults were involved. Students used it as a platform for voicing their opinions on gun control and gun violence against youths. This walkout was created because of the recent spike in school shootings, especially the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 lives were taken.
Asheville Middle School had lots of students involved in planning this event, although the 3 main people planning and orchestrating this event were Kate Buys, Ginger Hanlon, and Alana Kendrick. This event was extremely hard to plan because we had to take into account safety and time. The three of us started to plan the walkout at the end of February. We made an instagram account to communicate the details of this event with the AMS student body, we worked with teachers and school resource officers to make this event as safe as possible. We got lots of student support, but we did face a few issues. Because of safety concerns we were unable to disclose a location to anyone until the day of the walkout. This was a struggle because it made it hard to make sure students knew what was going on and where it was going on. We also had to take into account the students who didn't feel comfortable walking out and students who didn't want to walk out. Although teachers were not allowed to walk out and could face consequences if they did because of State law, there was still a concern that teachers might. If a teacher walked out, what would happen to the students in the classroom. These were all obstacles that we needed to work around and find answers to. The largest issue that we faced was when we found out school was canceled on the 14th. This was a huge struggle, because we still wanted to walk out and we knew that others wanted to walk out too. So we decided to change the date of the walkout for the next day. We didn't have a way to get the information out that quickly so we posted something on our instagram and hoped for the best. A few hours later we checked our instagram and were shocked by what we saw, our word was spreading fast! On almost everyone's instagram was the new information! but it still worked out.
On the 15th the walkout went just as planned, just a day late! Students walked out at 10:00, we had 17 minutes silence to honor the 17 victims of the Parkland School shooting and during these minutes students also had the chance to write letters to congressmen, senators and representatives. After the 17 minutes of silence we had a few 8th graders read off speeches and poems they wrote. The turnout was about 500 students. This experience was incredibly rewarding because it gave many students a chance to stand up for what they believe and help to make a change.
Story by Ginger Hanlon, Kate Buys, and Alana Kendrick