On March 5 we got a letter from the school board. Usually, this means there will be a fun event or other good news—new funding, longer breaks, fewer periods in the school day.
But no. Instead they tell us they are canceling the walkout that was planned for this Wednesday. This walkout was organized nationally to take a stand against gun violence, to tell our messed-up country that we are done. Enough is enough.
Enough happened way before this, way before the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. But this time we are really done with this. Done with being ignored. Done with being discarded. Done with the violence. Done with the fear.
This is not something that can be ignored or forgotten, and now here we are, learning that our district’s walkout had been canceled while “March for Our Lives” demonstrations are set to take place at other South Bay schools this week and throughout the nation on March 24. (For a full list of Bay Area schools participating, check here)
I’m sure you can imagine my thoughts and emotions when I heard the news. I was furious. What could possibly be going through the minds of the people who told them not participate in the national walkout?
Their excuse? It is too political and could be too traumatic for the young children. We lost 17 students and teachers, and that is just “too political” for the school board to handle?
This is complete B.S. So pardon me, I am just a tad bit furious. They stated in their newsletter that they did not want to put anyone at risk or make anyone unhappy. They will continue to do lockdown drills but they don’t want anyone to get anxiety from a walk-out? Why should we be silenced from protesting? Pretty much the rest of the country is taking part in walkouts but it’s just far too political for our little school board to handle.
If a big group of 13-year-olds can handle it, why can’t full-grown adults handle it? It seems to me the roles have switched, the kids are more courageous than the adults. And as far as the young children go, they have been doing lockdown drills for this situation since kindergarten.
But now that something has actually happened, “Oh, we don’t want to put them through that, it is just too traumatic for their young minds.”
No, screw that. I’m obviously enraged right now.You have already ruined them with your excessive lockdown drills and talks about the dangers of social media by the time they are in third grade! So don’t you dare tell us that it is too traumatic to protest injustice and violence. Because across the U.S., at Sandy Hook Elementary, 28 school kids and their teachers were killed in 2012. That is far more traumatic than a walkout, if you ask me.
If you are worried about the young kids in our district getting scared or too uncomfortable, which I can tell you, as somebody who has already testified about gun violence prevention twice in front of the city council, your concerns are unwarranted.
But here is a simple solution: contact the parents and have them sign a form allowing their child to participate in the event if you feel they are too young to make the decision for themselves.
Also, maybe ask a professional if you are worried that it may provoke anxiety. A licensed professional (aka my mom) I consulted said: “No, if done correctly it could actually alleviate stress. There could be therapists on campus to talk to students about their worries or fears. Sh*t got real, it has been real for a long time.”
And from my dad, who chimed in: “It seems to me Instead of making the kids anxious, this could empower them. They have already experienced a real lockdown. But if they stood up for themselves it could make them feel stronger. It seems to me this should alleviate anxiety to know they can call out their politicians and demand action.”
They both said the same thing, that this could alleviate fear and anxiety.
So here it is, my message to you, dear school board:
I recently read a newsletter you sent out to the parents of all of the students in the district. In it, you announced that you would be canceling the walkout you had planned. I am here to merely share my strong opinion on the matter. You seem to believe that the situation is too political.
Answer this question for me: how is losing the lives of 17 students and teachers even remotely political? Is death Democratic, Republican, independent etc.? I have failed to understand how it is. And in case you were wondering or did not know, political [puh-lit-i-kuh l]: exercising or seeking power in the governmental or public affairs of a state, municipality, etc. So I ask you, please explain how this is even remotely political. Because, I do not see it, I don’t think students lives are political.
But I do know one thing for a fact: children are dead. And dying.
You also said that “participation in walkout style events may increase the sense of fear and anxiety among our younger students…” I decided to look into this. I talked to a licensed professional. They said, “Civil disobedience is about self-advocating in a structured way to communicate that things as they are, are harmful to our communities, particularly to our schools.”
Giving us an opportunity to speak out is very important, it has a higher chance of making kids feel better and more empowered. Let us have a voice. We deserve it. I would also like to mention that we have been doing lockdown drills for as long as I can remember, we have even had a few lockdowns, including one this year. That is much more stressful than walking out of school for a few hours to fight for something we believe in. Enough is enough. Let us fight. Let us win
Maya Schaffer is a 13-year-old student in the Cambrian School District who writes about climate change, gun violence, sexism and cats and hopes to someday become a photojournalist. At age 9, she became the youngest blogger ever on the Daily Kos. Opinions are the author’s own.