So What Exactly Did Yesterday’s MN School Walk Outs Accomplish?
Students from 77 Minnesota schools walked out of classes yesterday in 17 minutes of protest and call for change.
The walk outs were done in memory of the 17 students killed at Parkland School in Florida and in protest of current gun laws.
I applaud any and all students who took action yesterday. I believe that parents have failed their children in creating safe home environments, that adults have failed students in creating safe school environments, that one generation has failed to prepare the world to be the best it can be for the next generation. I believe we have collectively reached a point of necessary change to improve mistakes or carelessness of those before.
But I don't believe a walk out is the change we need.
In the month since the tragedy at Parkland, I've appreciated the words of Ryan Petty who lost his 14-year old daughter Alaina in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Instead of a walk out yesterday, he called for a "walk up":
"Walk up to the kid who sits alone at lunch and invite him to sit with your group; walk up to the kid who sits quietly in the corner of the room and sit next to her. ... Walk up to your teachers and thank them; walk up to someone who has different views than you and get to know them -- you may be surprised at how much you have in common."
While countless students around the state and country stood in silent solidarity yesterday, others took Ryan's advice and did something more.
Students at Arbor Preporatory High School in Michigan were given 17 sticky notes (one for each of Parkland's victims) and encouraged to give 14 notes to fellow students and 3 to teachers.
Students at Clinton High School in Missouri were encouraged to have conversations with students they didn't know.
Students at Oak Creek High School in Wisconsin wrote their legislatures, wrote letters to Parkland students and committed to 17 acts of kindness towards each other.
A 16-year old Minnesotan from Buffalo High School was the only student not to walk out of his class. In an interview with CNN he said, "I have yet to have heard many good ideas, the [National School Walkout] movement seems too vague for my liking...and I would not like to associate myself with something I could end up disagreeing with in the future."
I applaud every student who took action or not yesterday, for whatever reason they chose to or not to. Every student's voice is valuable, and I would never want to be guilty of silencing it. But I further applaud the students who chose to walk up and not out. I think the greater difference was made in their actions. I think the louder call for change was theirs. I think the future will be made by them.