Students Walk Out

Spencer Phillips, Staff Writer

Tampa, Fla.—In the wake of the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Parkland, Florida, an uproar has begun across the nation rallying for change. However, this is not a new issue, with 31 school shootings having happened in the United States since Columbine in 1999. Parkland reignited old flames calling for reform, that were brought up after dozens of recent school massacres; most prominently Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook.

This movement against the status quo is being led by the survivors of the recent shooting. This is evident by protests in Tallahassee, Florida calling for gun reform, and a town hall coordinated by CNN where survivors and parents of victims asked questions to Florida Senators and State Legislators. These protests are underway just a week after the attack, demonstrating the resiliency of the Parkland attack’s survivors. These survivors were not alone, as hundreds of other students went to Tallahassee to protest alongside them, and thousands of others continuing to participate in walk outs of schools across the nation.

Other scheduled walk outs are gaining momentum online through news websites and social media. Currently, the two most prominent scheduled walk outs are the National School Walk Out planned for March 14th, and the March for Our Lives Walk Out scheduled for March 24th.

The National School Walk Out is planned to happen at 10 am in all time zones on March 14th. The plan is to walk out for 17 minutes to represent the 17 lives lost.

The survivors of the Stoneman Douglas shooting will head to Washington DC for the March for Our Lives protest on March 24th. Further details on this event are still unclear, but what is known is that dozens of sister city marches are planned in various locations across the United States, and even throughout the world.

It is clear students are upset and want their voices heard. The lack of legislation in the wake of so many school shootings has encouraged students to take matters into their own hands. These protestors are speaking about and against gun violence, and are calling for more gun regulation and control. The night before protests in Tallahassee, the Florida Congress voted “no” on debate whether some semi-automatic weapons, like the Ar-15 used in the recent shooting, should be banned along with high capacity magazines. Some legislators agree with protestors’ views that legislators are not acting swiftly. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said in an address to the Senate floor on Feb. 14, “These shootings are a consequence of our inaction.”

Students are outraged because their friends are dying and students feel unsafe in an environment that should be focused on education.

Durant High School in Plant City, Florida saw some of its own students head to the recent rally in Tallahassee—juniors Taylor Chandler and Patrick Valdez. Chandler, who is actually from Parkland, felt personally affected by the shooting, saying she felt unsafe after the attack. Chandler thought it would be a good idea for a walk out pointing out that, “people should be focusing on the students because students are the ones who are dying and being affected by it.”

Garret Kost, a senior at Durant, stated, “I am tired of seeing nothing happen and seeing these shootings still happen.” Kost was undecided about the walk out, believing that it would be a powerful message, but maybe not the most effective way of conveying that message. Kost has written letters to state legislators and believes that writing letters to government officials is a strong way to have your message heard.

Mr. Irovando, an AP government teacher at Durant, stat that it’s going to take a lot of voices, as well as voting to change things. He believes a walk out that would be peaceful and done properly would be reminiscent of the sit-ins of the 1960’s that were done in response to the Jim Crow laws.

Another way for students to express their discontent of current gun control laws and regulations is to write their representatives and senators. Durant High School students live in the 15th district of Florida, which is represented in congress by Dennis A. Ross. To contact Representative Ross, go to his website,, and email him directly.

The other option is to email either of the two senators representing Florida in the United States Senate, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson. To contact either of them, go to their respective websites: and

Many students at Durant have questioned what the possible consequences would be if they were to walk out in a protest. Some students have questioned why they should be punished for expressing their discontent for the inaction of their legislators, when it is the students who are the ones in danger.

Durant High School administrators discouraged a walk out during school hours, suggesting that it would disrupt the flow of education. Durant Principal Bowden and Durant Assistant Principal Witchoskey encouraged other ways for students to express their viewpoints that they felt might be more impactful. “It’s great the kids are coming together for the cause, but I think [a walk out] would have a negative effect,” said Witchoskey.

Witchoskey suggested students can help keep our school community safe by reaching out to administrators and school safety officers if they see anything out of the ordinary. “If you see something, say something,” said Witchoskey.