On Feb. 14, 2018, shooter Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas and opened fire on the students and staff. There were 17 casualties.
As a result of the school shooting that took place last Valentines day, survivors began speaking out. This nightmarish shooting demanded the attention of most everyone in America, including other students.
As an attempt to spark even more change, Montgomery County Students organized a student walkout on March 14, 2018. Schools that were close to a metro station took the metro, and marched to D.C. The walkout to the White House and Capital made it to the news. The Montgomery County students that organized the walkout of 2018 got together, and formed an organization called MoCo Students for Gun Control (later renamed MoCo Students For Change). More information about MoCo For Change can be found on their website: https://www.mocoforchange.org
A year later, MoCo for Change organized another school walkout. This year, students from every single MCPS high school were able to attend the walkout. MoCo for Change was able to provide transportation to schools, rather than only having select schools close to a metro station participate in the walkout.
The walkout entailed students walking from the metro station to the White House, where they sat in silence for 17 minutes. The 17 minutes of silence was also a component of last year’s march, as a tribute to the 17 casualties from the Parkland shooting. Students then marched to the Capitol, with their numerous signs held high, chanting various different mantras. Students raced up the hill of the Capitol in anticipation of the speakers.
Once students arrived at the Capitol, speakers such as Kate Ranta, a gun violence survivor and Giselle Morch, a mother of a victim of gun violence, pulled at the heartstrings of the students with their heart-wrenching stories. Speakers such as Dani Miller (MoCo for Change member) and eight-year-old Havana Chapman Edwards (nicknamed the Tiny Diplomat), aimed to catalyze change in their communities.
Simon Debasi, a member of MoCo for change, was a representative from Springbrook High School. While discussing what it was like to help orchestrate the student-led walkout, he said, “It required an extensive amount of planning and cooperation from kids all over the county. Luckily, our organization has grown to the point where we have a network of students in every school. That made it much easier to organize than last year. It was also a way for the most politically active and engaged students from across moco to interact with each other, similar to MCR.”
Another Springbrook High School student attending the walkout, Kelly Chicas, said, “It was a great experience that brought on some hope that we as a generation will finally bring on change. The organizers and those who attended have my utmost respect for caring enough.”
Students participated in the walkout as an attempt to get the federal government pass legislation to erect barriers in the process of obtaining a firearm. Many Montgomery County students participated in this walkout because they know all too well that they are living in a reality where schools are not exempt from the dangers of gun violence.