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“Students Speak!” out against gun violence

PC_ Peter (walkout)

 Wilson hosted a “Students Speak!” rally at the amphitheater to commemorate Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS shooting victims on Wednesday, Mar. 14.

 During the 17-minute rally, students read poems, sang songs and honored the 17 lives lost on Feb. 15 with a moment of silence. Seniors Mayra Rivera and Paul Pangan sang “Rise Up” and “Stand Up for Love,” respectively, and senior Vanessa Lopez and junior Samantha Tolosa recited poems and gave short speeches.

 Lopez says that the rally addressed a meaningful situation and motivated students to be more vocal.

 “Teenagers have changed the world before, and we are here to do it again,” Lopez said. “I live by the [motto]: ‘the time is always right to do what is right.’ [Therefore], I held this rally to remember those who were lost and speak out for change.”

 Lopez organized and hosted the student-led rally by proposing her idea to Assistant Principal Samuel Sanford  on Feb. 23 and receiving approval from administration. To assist Lopez, administrators extended nutrition break from 9:54 to 10:17, and Associated Student Body provided posters and a sound system for the rally.

 Originally, Parkland students planned a National Student Walkout, encouraging students to walk out of class at 10:00 A.M. for 17 minutes to demand stricter gun laws. Instead of advocating for the walkout, administration chose to follow through with the rally proposal to ensure student safety. Students who walked out would have received an unexcused absence.

 According to principal Danielle Kenfield, the rally served as an ideal alternative to the walkout.

 “Anytime students walk off campus, they put themselves in an unsafe position, which contradicts today’s theme of safety,” Kenfield said. “[Thankfully], the rally did a fantastic job of promoting a message of unity and peace while keeping students safe.”

 Parkland students have argued for a more comprehensive background-check system and a ban on assault-style weapons such as the AR-15. Legislators raised controversy by proposing to arm teachers in the classroom.

 After listening to the student speakers, junior Kayte Chien agrees that the rally sparked important conversations.

 “The rally [reaffirmed] my belief that we need [urgent] gun reform,” Chien said. “[However], we should not arm teachers, because I would not feel safe if teachers had guns on campus.”

 MSD students are currently organizing a “March for Our Lives” demonstration in Washington, D.C. and various other cities on Mar. 24.

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