Combs Courier

Coyotes rally for _________ during walkout.

Mixed support at demonstration leaves some passionate about change and others questioning motives of some attendees.

Rachael Loughry, Managing Editor

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Approximately 300 students from Combs High School walked away from their lunch and out of class on Wednesday to express their support for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the 17 people killed in the Valentine’s Day shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Gathering in a nearby parking lot at noon, students from all grade levels arrived with mixed intentions. Some were there for a moment of silence for the Florida victims, some in favor of increased gun control, and others to skip class. Ultimately, the root of this national movement is a unified commitment toward finding a solution to an ever growing problem. According to Snopes.com there have been 18 gun related incidents in the first eight weeks of 2018. Of those, seven are considered attacks on students resulting in 20 deaths and 34 injuries.

“I’m out here in support of everybody recognizing that there are problems with the mass shooting in Florida,” senior Zak Young said.  “We, as students, want to make a difference.”

Senior Spencer Mattson used the moment to remind the students that their sum is greater than their individual parts.

“We’ve got to remember that I’m one person and everyone here is just one person who walked out.  So, if we’re sitting here, each and everyone of us is inspiring in our own ways,” Mattson said.

Following Mattson’s speech, and despite chants of “We want guns” from students observing the demonstration from afar, participants stood in silence for 17 minutes in memory of those killed in Florida. Those who were there for the right reason wanted to make a difference.

“After hearing about something for so long and so continuously, it’s kind of hard not to stay passionate and really drive for change,” Mattson said.  “This [one demonstration] isn’t gonna change legislation, obviously, but I think these kids could change legislation.”

Some students diluted the power of the demonstration by attending simply wanting to get out class, or being there to make fun of it.

“That pile of kids, most not supporting the cause, most chattering away, tinkering at their phones.  It felt disingenuine,” senior Nathan Polo said. ”Sure, it meant something to the people standing by that pole, but to everyone else around, it was just a big gag to get out of class.”

While some teachers and administrators encouraged students exercise their freedom of expression, others thought there could have been a more appropriate way to go about recognizing the shooting in Florida.

“I don’t think a protest is the way to go about honoring those who died, because it was a lot of people giving up their lives for the other students,” science teacher Raquel Gloden said.  ”If we would have had a whole school-wide 17 minutes of silence, or something to that effect with the entire school involved, because it does affect every school, as soon as it happened classes were talking about it.”

Administration observed the event to ensure one thing.

“I think our stance is making sure students are safe.  Make sure that everything is appropriate with what’s taking place,” Schmidt said.  “It’s kids first.”

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