We just experienced Walkout Wednesday: thousands of students across the country staged a massive walk-out from school to advocate for safer schools.
For most students school is their second home. It is where they spend the greatest portion of their day, where they have many of their activities, and where they connect with their friends. It is also their place of growth—where they are prepared for much that will occur for the rest of their lives.
I find this movement to be both compelling and inspirational.
I sense a relentless spirit within these students that focuses on far greater issues than just gun control. It is about gaining control of school environments.
Because there are many ways schools can be unsafe and fear-based for students, I think this whole movement can open up a myriad of important ideas to protect our students and staff in schools.
I find more inspiration in some of the positive aspects of this movement, like the “word-up” practices where kind words are spoken to someone a student would typically not talk to. What a great way to help students not to be isolated from their peers.
Also the idea of “performing a good deed for someone today” is a like set of action steps to acknowledge and support fellow students.
Additionally, there is a new wave of political activism.
Students are demanding answers from their political leaders. They are also urging adults to become active in the political system by lobbying their local, state and federal representatives. This stands at the core of our American freedoms, and it is important for our students to feel empowered in our country.
There are so many good discussions that derive from this movement. Our second amendment rights are being seriously debated. The nuances of our current laws in the context of our contemporary culture are being raised and challenged. Mental health issues are being discussed. Brought forward, too, are student’s complex issues, that is, being aware of the signs of someone who may be seriously struggling and what to do about it (before it ends in tragedy).
Also, I believe this movement is helping students find their collective voice. The fact that students are supporting many other students throughout the country and joining together for the cause of school safety (and other like issues) to protect each other is just exceptional.
So often our students are criticized for their lack of interest and apathy; and yet, this movement has given them a sense of resilience and diligence in their responses to student shootings.
The stories are abundant with inspirational political and social activism. The cause is such a positive one, and I hope that we as a country will listen to student’s concerns and give them what they deserve, a safe and caring learning environment in their schools.
I think that is a goal that we all can agree on. I do appreciate their leadership and passion for their own protection and the protection of their fellow students nationwide.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO