More than three hundred students protested at West Lafayette High School today as part of the National School Walkout. Friday marked the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Colorado’s Columbine High School. Student organizers conceived and planned the event, and adults stayed on the sidelines to do one thing: listen.
The protestors filed out of class, some with signs, and gathered on the football field to listen to speeches from fellow students about the impacts of gun violence, and the roles adults and children alike have to play in the gun control debate. The crowd was then urged to use the final 15 minutes of the event to call their elected representatives and ask for action on gun control, referencing pamphlets of contact information handed to each participant.
One of the event’s organizers, freshman Emelina Aubeneau, says she’s not able to vote yet—so she’s doing whatever she can to help until then.
“We have power through our voice, and that's the only thing we have right now, and the one thing that we can count on is people listening to us," Aubeneau says. "And if they won't listen to us, as one of the speeches said, we're going to make them listen.”
Aubeneau says there’s a range of political views at West Lafayette High School, and not everyone agreed with the aims of the walkout—but everyone was invited.
Members of the group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in America, a national gun control advocacy group, convened on the sidewalk outside the school to write words of support up and down Grant Street in colorful sidewalk chalk. Messages included, “Thank you for speaking up”, and “Your parents are so proud.”