More than 1,000 students at Schreiber High School walked out of class Wednesday morning to protest gun violence.
The students, accompanied by school administration and staff, gathered around the flag pole in front of the high school’s main entrance at 9:15 a.m. as part of a national walk-out initiative against gun violence.
High school junior Stiffany Nakazawa organized the student-initiated walkout.
Equipped with a megaphone, she addressed the crowd during the rally to demand gun safety measures. She urged students to exercise their rights and their voice to demand the government enact change.
She said organized this event because she does not want to live another day in fear when she goes to school.
“I’m going to school and wanting to get my education but instead I have to fear losing a friend, or even my own life or losing a teacher that I love,” Nakazawa said. “That’s always a fear because the government isn’t doing anything about it.”
Students chanted “Not one more, not one more,” continuously throughout the demonstration to demand not one more student dies due to gun violence in schools.
“It’s horrifying to think that any day when you’re just trying to learn and excel yourself, you could die,” Nakazawa said.
The walk-out was concluded with a moment of silence to honor the lives lost to gun violence. Students then returned to class.
While Nakazawa said that planning the walkout was not stressful for her, it carried a lot of emotional weight.
“It was definitely one of the harder events to carry out without getting emotional,” Nakazawa said.
Nakazawa conducted the walkout with Students Demand Action, a national organization of young activists fighting to end gun violence.
The national walkout hosted by the organization occurred April 5, but Nakazawa said she chose to delay theirs as that fell on the week starting their spring break. Delaying it allowed for more students to participate and hear the message, she said.
As most students are unable to vote, Schreiber High School principal Kathryn Behr said that it is important for their students to get involved through other means of civic engagement.
“This is the world they live in,” Behr said. “This is their community and taking charge of the experience and the environment they live in is what we really want our students to be a part of. They are deciding their world.”
Behr said that the school’s administration attended the walkout to support their students and ensure their voices are heard.
Nakazawa said that it is important their student message is heard to enact the change they are seeking to prevent the continuation of gun violence in schools.
“Every student, every faculty member, every parent, everyone, they have to continue to have these conversations and continue to speak out so that these things are not seen as normal, or just another school shooting,” Nakazawa said. “We really have to talk about it. It is something we really have to push to change especially with our generation.”