Voice of the student: AHS students hold walkout in protest of gun violence

Published 8:17 am Saturday, April 21, 2018

Cassity Nangle, 17, was surprised to see the 100 or so Austin High School students turn out to show support for tighter gun controls and increased school safety on Friday.

Together with thousands of teens across the nation, the group spent about 20 minutes outside the school before returning to class about 10:30 a.m.

Parna Lam, right, and Ameisha Gunsallus, left, hold up signs during a walk-out by Austin High School students Friday morning in conjunction with a national walk out. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“I really didn’t know what to expect,” Nangle said, “but this is a good number.”

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Nangle, 17, was one of the organizers of the student-led walkout, held to align with the date of the Columbine High School shooting of 1999.

“I like being part of something that I truly believe in,” Nangle said.

The irony, said fellow organizer Katie Lillemon, 16, is the wealth of school attacks that have taken place since Columbine.

“Having school safety still being an issue is astonishing,” the sophomore said, adding she would urge fellow students to contact legislators.

Teens do have power, said junior Brock Lawhead.

“There are 18 million teens who will be able to vote” in the mid-term elections, he told the crowd. “That means our generation matters. It’s important to stand up, so nothing like this happens again.”

“Legislator silence means no end of violence.”

The group listened to a few short speeches, received “Students for Change” bracelets and then entered into a round of chants.

Katie Lillemon begins Friday morning’s rally in front of Austin High School. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Then, they joined thousands of students across the nation who observed 1 minute and 13 seconds of silence, to honor the 17 victims of Columbine.

“We will not be the next 17,” said Nangle.

There were a few students who did not agree with those who attended. One carried a sign, “Second Amendment – Don’t Take the Good Guys’ Guns,” and “Protect Students Give Teachers Guns.”

The school resource officer, as well as high school administrators, watched from the steps of the high school as media gathered to record the event.

Outside of some uncontrolled conversation while students were trying to speak, the gathering was orderly.

Overall, said Nangle, “we’re really proud of our school coming together.”

Austin’s students hand out wristbands during a student-led walk-out Friday morning in front of Austin High School. Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindaliyherald.com