By Gigi Hume
This past Wednesday, March 14, our school stood not only with our brothers and sisters in Parkland, Florida, but those in Newtown, Littleton, Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, San Bernardino, Great Mills, and any other place affected by senseless tragedy at the hands of automatic weapons and/or bump stocks.
Led by seniors Jillian Owens and our own Kristina Ching, dozens of students stood in unity in the Plaza from 10:00 AM to 10:17 AM where orange balloons with the names of each victim were released into the sky. Together, students, teachers, and administrators stood in reverential silence to honor all victims of gun violence before Owens and Ching called upon students to take action and affect change.
“Those seventeen kids could have been us,” Owens pleaded, “Now, we spend a minute honoring those who will never have another minute.”
Holding up a powerful Florida-orange poster reading “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH,” Ching echoed her sentiments, calling upon the Tustin High population to call our senators—Kamala Harris (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D)—and representatives—Mimi Walters (R-45) or Lou Correa (D-46)—and register to vote.
As a spectator, this was undoubtedly beautiful and deeply moving, but many students, myself included, were upset by the fact that administration switched to Tutorial schedule to ensure that there would not be any cuts and that the district would not lose any money.
Enter Walkout 2.0—bigger and bolder.
From 11:00 AM to 11:17 AM, more than one hundred students walked out at the tail-end of third period to fulfill the original intention of the walk out—to rebel against the obedience that has been indoctrinated within us by Congress and the school system in favor of the greater good.
During this time, students had much more of an opportunity to speak their minds before their peers. One of the most commanding speakers of the demonstration, senior Citlalli Mora, praised the encouraging vibe of the second walkout, “I didn’t expect there to be that good of a turnout. I felt proud that our students took action and realized that our voices do matter. It was full of passion and determination; the amount of respect that our students held for the victims was admirable and I’m glad I was able to be a part of that.”
Senior Kristina Ching calling upon students to vote and call our senators
Senior Citlalli Mora reading off the names of the Parkland victims and urging students to unify and not wait for tragedy to strike to take action
For seventeen minutes, anyone who wanted to speak their mind could, and students across social groups spoke about topics ranging from Newtown to chants of “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”. Better yet, as Mora stated, participants were totally respectful of those who chose to speak, even applauding them, and everyone involved created a completely peaceful environment with students going back to class without incident.
In short, both demonstrations were a resounding success among the student body and the conversations pleading for change even carried on into thoughtful classroom discussions. But right now, we have so much momentum and there is still so much us meddling kids can do.
Next Saturday, March 24, there are two local walkouts at Centennial Regional Park in Santa Ana from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM and the front of Representative Mimi Walters office in Irvine from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM that are great opportunities to maintain the protest spirit. But for those that can’t attend, I urge you to call our representatives and senators and tell them you want them to support any measures that even inch toward comprehensive gun reform. For those who may be struggling with what to say, 5 Calls is a great resource that provides call scripts that you can reference. And of course, vote! Don’t be fooled the “You’re just kids, what can you do?” rhetoric—your vote matters. You have the power to affect change at the federal level and when that happens, #NeverAgain will become a reality.
Remember—You are the future. You are the change.
Go get ‘em Tillers.