Student Perspectives on the Cab/Charter Walkout
By Force File Writers
On March 14, 2018, at 10:00 am, students at Cab Calloway School of the Arts and the Charter School of Wilmington participated in a national walkout to protest gun violence in schools in the wake of the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Dozens of students held signs as guest speakers Mike Purzycki, Mayor of Wilmington, and Bryan Townsend, Delaware State Senator, spoke to the crowd which numbered in the hundreds. News cameras rolled as students shared the lives of the 17 victims of the shooting and honored them each with a moment of silence (see Gun Violence in School: What We The Students Can and Are Doing for more details). In the wake of this event, several writers for the Force File share their experiences.
Question: How did you get involved in the walkout and what was your role? Or, if you did not participate, how did you make your decision?
Ben Snyder: I started hearing talk about a week after the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, and along with some friends, I decided that I wanted to take part in the walkout as just a normal student to protest in favor of stricter gun regulations. Initially, there was a fair amount of drama because it was unclear when the date was or if students that participated would get in trouble. Happily, this was worked out weeks in advance.
Jordyn Flaherty: The first people to speak up against gun violence after the shooting were survivors. When I heard students at school debating gun regulation and background checks, I realized that the movement reached beyond partisan lines and affected those who are not interested in politics. I decided to walk out to honor the victims and protest gun regulations in America.
Question: How did it feel to see the media coverage of the event and the interest of the guest speakers?
Ben: Realizing that we were a part of something that really had Delaware’s if not the nation’s attention was definitely inspiring, but to be honest, I was nervous for my classmates who were speaking. I think the media coverage also gave the event a greater sense of purpose and legitimacy. It combined all of our individual thoughts and opinions into a bigger, communal “event.” To viewers of the television coverage, we became a single crowd and a single voice. I just hope that we are heard.
Jordyn: Politicians find passion in the people. The mayor and and senator’s involvement demonstrated the protester’s success in making their voices heard. Young people are pushing for change and legislators are listening. The media coverage of various walkout events and prestigious speakers made me feel proud of my generation. Our walkout put Charter among those in a national movement.
Question: What part of the walkout felt most moving or significant to you?
Ben: Personally, I found the eulogies and moment of silence for each of the shooting victims the most emotionally moving part of the event. One detail stood out to me especially poignantly. I don’t remember who it was, but I remember feeling incredibly sad to hear that one of the students would have received a letter congratulating her on her National Merit Scholarship finalist status if she had lived through the attack. It made me think about the incredible devastation of losing such a young life and it forced me to realize how this sort of tragedy really can happen to anyone.
Jordyn: The most moving part of the walkout for me was when, in an individual eulogy, students recounted how one person died shielding their best friend from bullets. I could feel a palpable wave of emotion wash over the crowd. A few people around me made eye contact with their close friends. The story combined the known and the terrifying unknown. I understand what it feels like to have a best friend, but I have never had to weigh our lives or block bullets. So much of the fear that has led to the movement is because we can see ourselves in the victims. We live the beginning, but we walk out because we hope to never face the end.