Carson City school district students participate in National Walk Out day

Eagle Valley Middle School principal Lee Conley speaks to students Wednesday about safety in schools.

Eagle Valley Middle School principal Lee Conley speaks to students Wednesday about safety in schools.

Everyone deserves the right to be safe in every classroom.

That was the message hundreds of Carson High students gathered Wednesday morning to advocate for school safety during the National Walk Out.

The students walked out to the football field for a 17-minute rally to listen to speeches by their fellow students about why school safety is an important issue for them all.

“It is so inspiring to stand here and see so many young and motivated students out here with the intentions of causing change,” senior and organizer Tobias Arreola said at the rally. “… Today, we the students have decided to put aside our differences in opinion in order to advocate for the safety of schools around the country.”

Arreola said the important part of the rally was the students were united under one message: school safety. Not gun control, not congressional inaction on gun violence, but strictly to voice their disdain on the safety conditions presented in schools.

“Safety is the main issue, lots are against our protest because they think it is about gun control,” Arreola said. “But we are trying to be a voice of change for better school safety. Lots of times we advocate for safe schools, that is a no-brainer, but we aren’t willing to discuss what is making our schools unsafe and that is what started this movement. This is a wake up call.”

The movement came about because of the Parkland, Fla., shooting last month, where 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High lost their lives.

“I was so inspired by the shooting survivors and their commitment to this movement,” Arreola said. “And to hear so many people bold enough to talk about this controversial topic, it gave me the idea to organize this.”

And hundreds showed their support through physical presence along with a number of posters calling for change. The students also had the opportunity to sign a giant poster titled “17 plus reasons why school should be safer.”

“This is important because we have a right to exercise a peaceful protest and free speech to call for action for the right to a safe school,” Arreola said. “And the banner is important because not everyone was fortunate like I was to get up and speak (at the rally)…and everyone has a voice no matter how small or how big they think it is.”

“Youth doesn’t equal ignorance,” “A teen’s place is in resistance,” “We are students, we are change,” were just some of the messages the students expressed.

“We had our teachers motivating us to do this, the school behind us to realize we have a say about what is going on in our lives and in the country,” said junior Sy’Johnnaqa Moore. “This is a demonstration that someone cares.

“I am big on having a positive effect on my environment and this just spoke to me.”

Moore acknowledged that there are a lot of naysayers who diminish what the students are trying to say.

“I don’t pay them any mind, I will hear them out because they do have important information and I know that I don’t know everything, but what I do know is that I have a voice,” Moore said.

But the student organizers agreed though not everyone is on board with this movement, that’s OK.

“There were students who weren’t here and that is important too because they are also exercising their right to stay silent and stay in school and protest the protest,” Arreola said. “That is so important because it is hard to see all your classmates leaving and you are strong enough to stay because that is what you believe.”

He said even though some students had differing opinions, they all stayed respectful of one another.

“I was expecting lots of shouting and disrespect but everyone was so respectful to one another, even when I was talking to people who didn’t necessarily agree with me,” Arreola said.

School officials however were an advocate for the movement, saying they saw it as a teaching moment for the students to practice exercising their rights.

“For me, (we were involved) because we always want our students to have a voice but in a productive way,” said principal Tasha Fuson. “We wanted it to be organized in a way the students would be safe and actually engaged instead of just walking out to where? To what?”

Fuson said the students were completely in charge of the rally; the administration and teachers were just there as chaperones to make sure everyone stayed safe.

“We were just here in support, and that is good,” Fuson said. “I am proud of the student body, they took this seriously and took pride in their community and themselves.”


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