The Seattle Prep Panther

Students Walk Out to Honor Parkland

On March 14 2018 Seattle Prep students walked out of class to show solidarity with shooting victims in Parkland, Florida. The protest lasted 17 minutes and included a silent lay-in, student speakers, and a reading of Parkland victims names.

Annika Bjornson and Emma Cooney

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On March 14 at 10am, the Seattle Prep community joined the rest of the nation in a 17 minute walk out to honor the 17 students and faculty who lost their lives at the school shooting in Parkland, Florida exactly one month ago.

The shooter was 19-year-old former student Nikolas Jacob Cruz, who killed 17 students and faculty and injured 17 more at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz arrived on campus on the afternoon of February 14 with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle and multiple magazines. Cruz’s motive remains unclear, but many tips about threats to carry out a shooting had reached the Broward County sheriff in 2016 and 2017. Following the six-minute shooting, he was arrested and confessed to committing the crimes, and has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder.

The Parkland shooting is the sixth school shooting resulting in injuries in 2018 alone and some would refer to it as “the turning point.” In response to this tragedy, students at Stoneman Douglas High School and all across the country have taken action on the topic of gun control in the U.S. in hopes that they will never have to hear about a school shooting again. Some of these response actions have included: speaking with state lawmakers about gun policy; participating in a nationwide school walkout on March 14th; starting the movement #NeverAgain; and planning the March 24th March for Our Lives. The Seattle Prep community felt a call to join.

Organized by senior Mackenzie Skogland and a group of passionate students, the walk out took place by the flagpole, with the flag at half mast in honor of the victims of the shooting. Students were invited to lay down in silence for 17 minutes. The organizers of the walkout also handed out orange ribbons—representing the color that hunters wear to protect themselves from other hunters—as a mark of the call for gun reform that is sweeping the nation. Said Skogland ’18 about the experience, “It was pretty amazing. I didn’t expect so many people to be there. I was super nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect.” It is estimated that almost 75% of the student body participated in the walk out.

“It was pretty amazing. I didn’t expect so many people to be there. I was super nervous at first because I didn’t know what to expect.”

— Mackenzie Skogland

At the end of the lay-in, junior Gabi Jeakle and senior Sam Hoyt shared personal reflections. “I’m tired,” said Hoyt ’18, expressing his disgust with the existence of a world in which so many young lives can be lost. “I’m tired of the headlines, the debates, the anger, the same talking points, the same diversions and the same thing happening next week.”

Hoyt finished by urging his fellow Prep community members to take action, saying, “Our generation is going to be handed the reigns of our country very soon and I challenge all of you to help steer us in the right direction.”

Jeakle shared the importance of giving the victims of the shooting more than simply “thoughts and prayers,” but instead responding directly to the tragedy with actions. “Say a prayer before you go to bed,” she said, “and then wake up and fight for justice. We will can’t agree on everything. But we’re not standing here because we agree on everything. We’re here because we believe in humanity, for everyone.”

“Say a prayer before you go to bed, and then wake up and fight for justice. We will can’t agree on everything. But we’re not standing here because we agree on everything. We’re here because we believe in humanity, for everyone.”

— Gabi Jeakle

Though Hoyt and Jeakle were featured speakers at the event, many participating students shared their passionate thoughts: “It is so important for us, as young people, to continue with this movement to fight for justice. We have the nation listening to us and we should not be silenced until our demands are met. What happened in Parkland cannot be overlooked like the countless other hate crimes of gun violence. We need to help keep this movement alive and continue to push for change, because our generation, as united as we are now, can make the difference. It takes all of us,” said sophomore Liv McAuslan.

The actions taken at Prep on 14th were a small but important piece of a nationwide movement to bring about change that will protect schools and students from gun violence. Seattle Prep President Kent Hickey’s blog post, titled “Joe Camel and Big Guns,” said of this generation of youth, “They walk into school each day wondering if this will be the day that the lockdown drill won’t be a drill. No young person should have to live with this fear.” People from all different political backgrounds have joined the call for change to end this fear.

As members of a Jesuit community, Prep students, parents and faculty are called to work with a commitment to justice in all things. The Parkland shooting has revealed an opportunity to do this using the strong voices of the teenage generation. As Pope Francis said, “Dear young people, do not bury your talents, the gifts that God has given you. Do not be afraid to dream of great things.”

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About the Writers
Annika Bjornson, Editor in Chief
Editor-in-chief Annika Bjornson is excited for her fourth and final year writing for the Seattle Prep Panther. This unicorn-at-heart loves dancing, Frank’s Red hot sauce, and writing (note: her favorite word is hippoptomonstrousesquipedaliophobia, meaning ‘a fear of long words’). She lives in the Western hemisphere on the west side of North America on the west...
Emma Cooney, Editor in Chief
Emma Cooney (Editor-in-Chief) is super excited to be on staff for her senior year at Seattle Prep. Besides sleeping, she enjoys taking long pensive walks and justifying the text boxes perfectly during layout for the paper. Her pet peeves include dry-labs and minion pro. If you can’t find her in class, check the theater—she’s probably...
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Students Walk Out to Honor Parkland