Lakeside Students Walk Out in Remembrance of Parkland Shooting Victims

Photo by Leila Baniassad

Exactly one month after one of the deadliest school shootings in American history, students all over the United States put down their pencils and walked out of class. At Lakeside High School, the area in front of the Fine Arts Building (FAB) was a sea of orange clad students holding signs advocating for reforms in school safety and honoring the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Though there have been walkouts at Lakeside in the past before to protest change in administration, there has never been one protesting something as politically

charged as school and gun safety.

New Voices of Change: For many of the 1500 or more Lakeside Students who walked out, this was their first protest. “There will be a lot of people who maybe aren’t as interested in activism or protesting who end up coming to this because they’re students at our school,” said Wolf. “I think it will be a really cool experience for those people to see ways that we can use our voice in our democracy and take a stand for something that is important.” Photo by Leila Baniassad

Over 1500 students gathered outside of the FAB for seventeen minutes of silence. During those seventeen minutes, seventeen Lakeside students stood lined up on the hill leading up to the main building, each holding a sign with one Parkland victim’s name written on it. At the start of each minute, one student would hold up their sign and say the name written on it. After the minutes of silence were over, a group of five students took turns delivering one speech that they wrote together.

We Want Change: Senior Sawyer Wolf, Junior Reagan Conn, and Junior Roni Wagner chant “What do we want? Change! When do we want it? Now!” Photo by Leila Baniassad

Senior Sawyer Wolf and sophomore Natalie Stembel led the group of students who organized the entire walkout. The process started with meeting with Principal Damian Bounds, who gave them approval to do the walkout without consequence. “It’s on more of a national scale and DeKalb county supports the students’ opportunities to voice their first amendment rights,” said Principal Bounds. “It’s very pleasing to see that students [were] stepping up to lead this.” Wolf and Stembel knew that if there were no consequences, many more people would be willing to drop everything and walk out of class. “My hope for the walkout is that by the end[of the walkout, people who did it for the wrong reasons are inspired enough by it to want to do it for the right reasons again,” said Stembel. Students interested in helping contacted the leaders through social media and eventually a group of over 100 students were meeting weekly to generate ideas and delegate responsibilities.

Photo by Leila Baniassad

Students at Saint Pius X catholic faced suspension if they had walked out at their own school because the archdiocese of Atlanta ruled that at catholic high schools, walkouts cannot be allowed to occur. Saint Pius X juniors Sophie Lentine Brown, Marley Lentine, and Katherine Munger checked out of school and drove to Lakeside to participate in the demonstration. “We couldn’t take a stand [at our school],” said Photo by Leila Baniassad

Lentine. “We came here to have a voice” added Brown.

Photo by Leila Baniassad

A second National School Walkout is scheduled on April 20th, 19 years after the Columbine High School school shooting. While the first walkout was solely meant to honor the Parkland victims, the second walkout will focus on gun reform. Some students who walked out, including junior Campbell McMillan, only wanted to honor the Parkland Victims and will not walk out on the 20th due to the message of that demonstration.

Photo by Leila Baniassad

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