Students walk out to protest gun violence

Students throughout DeKalb County participate in nationwide protest.

“We will not be silent. Stop gun violence.”

That was the chant as 1,300 students from Druid Hills High School walked onto the school’s front parking lot.

They joined thousands of students across DeKalb County and nationwide in leaving class at 10 a.m. March 14—the one-month anniversary of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. that killed 17 students and staff members.

Throughout DeKalb, students found ways to honor the memory of those lost to gun violence and express their desire for change. Students at Columbia High School chanted “Books up, guns down.” A group of Tucker High School students held a sit-in in the school’s hallway.

Henderson Mill Elementary students and staff joined hands and linked arms around the outside of the school. A group of Decatur High School students walked out and observed 17 minutes of silence.

Chloe Guzman, 17, a junior at Decatur High School, said hundreds of students walked out.

“Just the fact that we were all able to sit and observe the silence—it was just so powerful,” she said.

City Schools of Decatur superintendent David Dude attended the walkout and said he was impressed with the way students conducted themselves.

“In over 20 years in education, 11 of those as a high school teacher, I have never seen a large group of high school students act with such incredible maturity, respect and decorum,” he said. “It was an impressive sight to see.”

Lisa Medford, 17, a senior at Druid Hills, organized the school’s walkout and invited speakers such as local author Melissa Fay Green to address students.

“This movement is the first roar America has heard from your generation,” Green told students in her speech. “I’m pretty sure America did not expect to hear from you already. Not while you’re still in high school. Not on public policy.”

The event was covered by the national media, with Medford being interviewed on ABC’s Good Morning, America.

“Standing up and speaking in front of the entire student body and seeing all the posters, seeing all the emotion on people’s faces and realizing that everyone here really does care and that the youth of this nation really do want to strive to make a difference—it was awesome to see it all take place,” Medford said.

At the close of the event, Druid Hills principal Mark Joyner encouraged teachers to engage students who wanted to discuss the walkout. He also encouraged students who will be old enough to vote in November to register to vote at the school during fourth period.

According to Medford, more than 100 students registered to vote, and the school plans to hold more voter registration events.

“When a tragedy like the one at Stoneman Douglas High School occurs, we are all forced to recognize our own mortality,” Medford said in her speech at the closing of the protest. “Do not forget how this feels. Do not forget your anger, your frustration, your desire for change.


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