by Lexi Matthews ’18
Tens of thousands of students from over 3,000 high schools nationwide walked out of their classrooms between nine and ten a.m. on Wednesday, taking to the street to protest for stricter gun control measures in schools. From Columbine High School in Colorado to Newtown High School in Connecticut, young people gathered at 10am to observe 17 minutes of silence in honor of the 17 students who died at MS Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida a month prior.
One hundred fifty Sherwood students spent these minutes at the White House, while, simultaneously, 450 more gathered inside the football stadium. At the White House, students sat with their backs turned to the residence of the president, many holding up their fists in solidarity with the movement. Back at Sherwood, Amnesty International stood on the football field and held up pictures of the Parkland victims and spoke as students sat and watched from the stands. “I think the walkout was really successful. It went extremely well,” said junior Hena Hussien, president of Amnesty International, who organized the event.
After the 17 minutes had expired, Sherwood students on campus quietly made their way back to class, while students in DC started their march to the capitol. With nearly 3,000 students in tow, the group chanted and waved signs throughout their nearly 40 minute walk, followed closely by a hoard of both local and national news teams. “The crowd was much larger than I expected it to be and all of the demonstrations were extremely powerful,” said senior Ben Gratz, Sherwood’s student representative for the walkout.
At the capitol, students gathered to listen to a wide range of speakers deliver addresses about the persisting need for greater measures of gun control. Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin, Georgia Representative John Lewis, California Representative Nancy Pelosi, and Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen all spoke as scheduled. A surprise speech from Senator Bernie Sanders was also delivered just beyond stage via handheld speaker, much to the delight of several diehard fans in the crowd.
In addition to professional politicians, the crowd also heard from several student activists, including senior Brenna Levitan from Blair High School, junior Nate Tinbite from Kennedy High School, and senior Matt Post from Sherwood.
“Those who fail to support us, those who look for every answer to this issue but the guns themselves, will be complicit to every death that comes after. This is not a partisan issue for us. There is nothing cosmetic about life or death. This is about guns, and our morality as a country,” said Post in a rallying cry to the crowd, which can now be seen in a video posted on Facebook by NBC that has garnered over five million views.
Although the day of the walkout has officially past, students are adamant that their cause will not simply fizzle out. Another national march for gun control in DC has been organized for this Saturday, and nearly half a million are expected to attend. “As we’ve stood in the backyard of Congress, we have elevated our voices to unprecedented levels and have proven that no barrier can withstand the strength of our voices. Our fight does not end here, and it won’t end on the 24th either,” said Tinbite.