The students of Schreiber High School participated in the national walkout to demand stricter gun laws
On Thursday, May 26, students of Schreiber High School participated in a national walkout to mourn the victims of the Uvdale school shooting and protest gun violence. Only two days after the horrifying and fatal shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvdale, Texas, students across the county walked out of school at noon to make their voices heard.
The walkout aligned with the national organization Students Demand Action, a student-run group working to end gun violence across the country. Two juniors at Schreiber High School organized the walkout for Schreiber by creating a public Instagram page called SHS Demands Action to spread the word to their classmates.
Emma Janoff and Gaia Dash successfully hosted the walkout at noon, with an estimated 600 students participating. The two students prepared speeches, conducted a moment of silence and read some information about the 19 students and three teachers killed in the Uvdale shooting.
A video posted on the Schreiber High School’s Instagram page shows the two students giving their speeches to their classmates and teachers.
“We are here today to not only mourn the losses…from Robb Elementary school and to show our support as a community to the town of Uvdale,” said Janoff. “But also to advocate for stricter gun laws and protest our government’s continued inaction on this issue.”
“As students and minors, it is easy to feel powerless in these situations,” continued Janoff. “We are one of the most impacted groups by gun violence, yet we are voiceless in voting…I see the impact of school shootings every day in normalized lockdown drills and school shooter protocols, a collective fear of unplanned fire drills and flinching when a bag of chips pops in the cafeteria.”
“We are the politicians and leaders of the future,” said Janoff. “If we continue to excuse an action, change will never come.”
After Janoff closed her speech, Dash took the megaphone to read a speech of her own.
“[Gun violence] is a difficult reality to come to terms with and seemingly impossible issue,” said Dash. “But if we don’t continue to discuss it with parents, teachers and classmates, don’t continue to push for solutions and talk to our lawmakers, nothing will ever change.”
The walkout was well attended by students and staff, as teachers and administrators also joined the students outside to mourn the victims and hear the speeches. School Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Hynes was in attendance and supported the passionate students.
“I’m not only proud of what [Janoff and Dash] said, but I’m proud of who was in attendance,” said Dr. Hynes. “You could hear a pin drop when they were speaking, so I was sincerely appreciative of every student and adult that was there.”
Dr. Hynes commended the student organizers for their well-thought-out speeches and the time and effort put into preparing the walk-out.
“When the speaking students were done, we had students talking to each other about what was said as they were re-entering the building,” said Dr. Hynes. “So I didn’t view this as an opportunity for students to miss class, I saw this as a teachable moment for students, and I think they were very inspired.”
News crews reported on Schreiber’s walkout, which Dr. Hynes and the administration welcomed. A News 12 Chopper flew around filming an ariel view of the walkout for 10 minutes.
“I believe what makes our high school students special is how we have prepared them to be able to articulate things they are passionate about,” said Dr. Hynes. “When you draw a line in the sand because we did, you will receive applause and backlash, so it takes a very brave person to stand up where you know you’re being televised.”
While many schools across the country participated in the national walkout, Schreiber’s walkout stood out from the rest because of the amount of student participants. With an estimated 600 students participating, almost half of the High School student body showed support.
“As we draw lines in the sand, you have to understand both sides of the equation,” said Dr. Hynes. “So not only is what they said important, but so is the life lesson of standing up for something that you believe in and understanding that maybe there are people who are not in agreeance with the way you view it.”
While the gun violence issue cannot be solved overnight, seeing students take a stand and make their voices heard is important and inspiring to people of all ages.
“We’re proud of what our students did and everybody else who was out there,” said Dr. Hynes. “Let’s hope the student’s voices from around the nation are heard by our Senators in Washington.”