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March 27, 2018

Will school walkouts inspire lawmakers to act?

Essential question: How should school address student walkouts?

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See the extension activity below to share your class’s solutions to gun violence in schools @NewsHourExtra via Twitter using #StudentGunReformIdeas.


Discussion questions:
  1. Essential question: How should school address student walkouts?
  2. Do you think the walkouts will inspire President Trump and lawmakers to take action to end gun violence in schools? Explain your response.
  3. What measures need to be put in place to end the problem of school shootings?
Extension activity:

Student Voices

‘March For Our Lives’ offers valuable civics’ lesson: Don’t be afraid of your government

Caitlin Glastonbury (left) and her peers make posters at Webster Schroeder High School near Rochester, New York, in preparation for the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24th. Glastonbury helped to organize a busload of 51 students and adults who will travel to D.C. early Friday morning. Photo credit: 13WHAM.com

My name is Caitlin Glastonbury. I am a high school senior from Webster, New York, just outside of Rochester, and I am joining the fight against gun violence.

On Wednesday, February 14th, I saw the news of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen people dead, 14 of them teenagers. Hundreds of children and families and community members affected.


Students in upstate New York signing a banner during the March 14th walkout to send to Parkland, Florida. Photo credit: 13WHAM.com

I was shocked, but honestly, not surprised. I mean, my news feed never stops telling of tragedy. It’s non-stop shootings and bombings and violence and death.

Over the the next couple of days, I read more about the shooting, and the more I learned, the more I realized: this could have been me. This could have been my school.

But I also noticed something else in my news feed: a large and growing number of young people taking part in the democratic process. A loud outcry by teenagers, spearheaded by Stoneman Douglas students, were calling on lawmakers to end gun violence in United States.


Rochester-area high school students making signs ahead of Saturday’s March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. Photo credit: 13WHAM.com

I saw that a National School Walkout was being organized for March 14th, and I immediately wanted to participate. I spent the following weeks focused on planning an event at my school.

I had the support and help of my teachers, my administration, and, most importantly, my friends.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the time and effort they spent planning the walkout.


High school students speaking out against gun violence during the March 14th school walkout in upstate New York. Photo credit: Webster Central Schools

But, of course, we faced some backlash. Some students had decided not to participate because it would be “too political.” Some ruled that it was “not political enough.”

Some went so far as to oppose us on the day by wearing shirts supporting guns and the NRA.

At the same time, a group of my friends and I were planning a trip to join the March For Our Lives in Washington D.C. on March 24th. We wanted to bring as many local students as possible. We were incredibly lucky to raise more than $5,500 through GoFundMe to cover the entire cost of the trip. The monies raised allowed us to charter a bus to the march full of 51 Rochester-area students.


READ: How teens want to solve America’s school shooting problem

Students signing a banner to send to Parkland, Florida, during the walkout on March 14th. Photo credit: 13WHAM.com

We received an overwhelming amount of support from our community after appearing on local news, but again, some backlash.

We were called lazy for asking for donations. We were called slackers for skipping school to attend this historic event, even though we are travelling during the night on Friday. We were called snowflakes for caring about the safety of American children. I was even called a boy for having a short haircut.

And still, we are traveling to Washington. We are going to march with students and people from around the nation to demand change.

I am incredibly proud of my generation. We are the people who are finally standing up and making the difference.

We are not afraid of our government. We are creating the future that we want, in which no student will have to worry about someone with a gun entering their school and destroying their life.

If you are reading this, I beg you to speak up. Talk to your friends, your family. Write to your legislators. Register to vote, and then vote. We have a voice. Now is the time to use it.


Visit PBS NewsHour Extra for more education resources designed to help teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories@NewsHourExtra

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PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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