Photo: Delanie Tucker/ Words: Delanie Tucker and Maddie Wirebach
On February 26, 2018, senior Sophie Lovering and staff member Kayleen Reese held a meeting with Centennial principal, Claire Hafets, several assistant principals, SGA members, and security staff, to discuss holding a walkout for gun reform.
After the devastating news of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on February 14, the students of the targeted school, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, banded together to raise awareness for gun reform. Their unity caught the attention of thousands worldwide, one of them being Lovering.
Lovering heard about the numerous walkouts and protests being planned, and immediately felt that willing Centennial students should be able to speak their minds and participate in the nationwide walkout for gun reform. She emailed Hafets, who told her to work with Reese and pull together other faculty members, along with SGA members Swadhin Nalubola and Greg Costello.
“I was trying to help Sophie do what she can’t do as a student, like posting Canvas announcements about the walkout and getting materials together to help with posters, so students knew and could come to the cafeteria for the planning,” Reese explained.
A Canvas announcement was sent to all Centennial students, stating that the March 14 walkout will happen at 10:00 am. The announcement encourages students who are choosing to participate to wear orange, the color of the movement, and bring posters. There will be no penalty for those choosing to walk out, so long as students participate in the walkout peacefully and return to class after the walkout. Students interested in participating should sign up on chseagletime.com for Ms. Reese under social studies.
Reese expressed how the walkout would be good for the students to understand that they do have a voice in the matter.
“I think that too often we’re told that we’re not going to be able to have an impact. . . and I think we need to know and practice our democracy. It is about what the people want,” said Reese.
In the meeting, Lovering and Reese discussed how the walkout would be advertised at Centennial. Although the walkout is advertised by the Women’s March Organizers as a walkout for gun reform in order to reduce gun violence and make schools safer, there was controversy in the meeting on how it should be viewed by the students.
“There was miscommunication on what the walkout was for,” Lovering admitted.
Some of the staff members present felt that the 17-minute walkout should focus on the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. Lovering, however, felt very strongly that although the victims should not be forgotten, the focus of the walkout should primarily be on gun reform.
“Of course, we want to honor the victims, but this walkout, specifically, is more geared towards pro-gun control,” Lovering explained.
Lovering was straight forward with her stance on gun reform.
“I’m not completely anti-gun, I think that’s a misconception that people who are pro-gun control are completely against the second amendment. I have no desire to own a weapon, but I don’t think civilians have any reason to own assault weapons,” she stated.
The meeting, in Lovering’s opinion, went fairly well, despite the few disagreements brought up.
“I think, personally, it was what I had hoped for in general. There was definitely a compromise over where the walkout will happen. But overall, it was a successful meeting, and I think we are achieving the goal we initially set.”
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