Most of members of the FWHS student body and faculty have heard by now something or other about the #NeverAgain Movement brewing in the halls, as the student walkout occurred only days ago. There are many opinions about the organization: some positive, some negative, some neutral, and most of them just plain confused. To shed some light to the situation and to the questions many have about it, allow me to explain the organization’s motivation, purpose, goal, and methodology.
On Wednesday February 14th, 2018, a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida around 2:30. The mass shooting was committed by a 19-year-old former student, Nikolas Cruz. Cruz attacked the school with an AR-15, and 17 lives were lost over the course of the massacre. The Parkland shooting is the third worst mass school shooting in American history (right behind Virginia Tech with 32 lives lost and Sandy Hook with 27 lives lost). When the attack happened, there seemed to be a general consensus among many people that as a nation we would all grieve for a week, send our “thoughts and prayers”, and then move on with our lives until the next mass shooting came around and the cycle would repeat itself.
That is not at all what happened.
Within a few short days, there was a movement brewing. A fully fledged powerful movement completely started and perpetuated by students. Students who found themselves fed up with the culture and society we live in that has for so long allowed mass shootings to take place without ever trying to address the many issues that contribute to them in the first place. The movement comes straight from the survivors of the Parkland shooting, with some main figureheads being Emma González, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky, Alexander Wind, and Jackie Corin to name a few. Their movement aims to make Parkland the last school shooting in America. They plan to do this in many ways, including meeting with Senators and even the President on live TV to speak about their experiences and opinions, pushing NRA lobbyists in Congress to leave either office or the NRA, completely taking over all social media on a national level, and lastly, and most importantly to them, to get other schools and students apart of their movement. That is where we, Fairfield Warde students, come in.
The movement had proposed a National School Walkout on March 14th, one month after the Parkland shooting, from 10:00 am to 10:17 am. This Walkout was to honor those lost in mass shootings, especially the 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting (why it was 17 minutes long), and also to send the message to all Americans, especially those in the government, that our generation is supporting each other and supporting some kind of change and reform in order to keep our lives and future lives as safe as possible.
There were a vast number of Warde students who felt the need to participate in this national statement by walking out on the 14th. Many of those students joined the #Neveragain Movement @Fairfield Warde Facebook group, which was the main way that we as a group discuss and plan for the walkout and continue working on other projects we’d like to do in keeping with the walkout’s theme. Small groups of those students have also met, and continue to meet, with administration, like Mr. Ebling himself and other teachers, to try to compromise on plans for the walkout and the days after.
Compromises were made on both sides. For example, the day of the walkout students who wished to participate went to the bus loop, a place deemed safest by the administration and the Fire Department. Additionally, the entire school will be participating in some kind of remembrance vigil during advisory that day. Furthermore, the students of the #NeverAgain Movement at Warde headed informational and educational tables during the lunch waves on the 14th and will do so again on Warde Day, the 28th, with a variety of resources available to anyone interested in stopping by. Some of these resources include include nonpartisan (neutral) templates for letters to Senators so that anyone can voice their opinion about gun control, informational pamphlets about such things as mass shooting, gun laws, the NRA, etc., and volunteers from the #NeverAgain Movement who are open to having conversations about gun control and other issues at play for mass shootings with anyone of any opinion. There is more in the works currently by both the administration and the #NeverAgain Movement students, but overall both sides are trying their hardest to work together.
It is important to note that the walkout on March 14th was entirely optional, as in any future participation in the movement. No administrator or student will be forcing or shaming anyone into participating in it. This movement is one by choice and we understand that for many, no matter their side, it is vehemently political, even when that is not the purpose of it. However, because of this, the #NeverAgain Movement students know that people will choose not to participate in the walkout and we respect that choice, as we hope our choice to participate is also respected. Furthermore, for those who chose to participate in the walkout, they were assured that this would not have any repercussions school-wise. All students were excused from class and allowed to leave; it it was just highly encouraged that you informed your teacher that you had for that period about it ahead of time.
At the end of the day, this movement, whether you support it or not, reflects a powerful and important statement about our generation: we are not complacent. We, as a generation and with whatever political affiliation, have grown up to be passionate and intelligent and loud. We do not wait around for people to say what we are thinking; we make our voices heard. And one of the best tools we use is social media, which is where this national movement has blossomed and where our school’s has primarily functioned, aside from some in-person meetings.
I personally hope that every teenager who sees this movement, whether they support it or not, takes away something important from it: no matter your age you can make your voice heard and impact not just your school but your community and country. We are the future leaders of this country and it’s amazing to see so many people in our generation step out to lead at such a young age.
For more information about the walkout, the #NeverAgain Movement, and anything else related to this topic, here are sources you can check:
Facebook: #Neveragain Movement @ Fairfield Warde
National School Walkout (This is the group heading the news and updates for the school walkout that Warde is participating in)
March For Our Lives (This is the group for the March for Our Lives protests around the country that are taking place on March 24th for gun control)
Never Again MSD (This is the group for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school survivors who are heading the movement)