FORT MADISON – Last Friday a couple dozen FMHS students walked out of their classrooms at 10:00 am. They stood outside the building for 26 minutes and 13 seconds, 26 minutes for the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting and 13 seconds in honor of the Columbine shooting nineteen years ago. Each student was out there for their own reason, their own purpose, but all were in agreement that “thoughts and prayers do nothing”.
The organizer of this walkout was senior Sara “Sally” Johnstun. She made sure that this walkout was for something and not an excuse to get out of school. Johnstun had many opinions and thoughts which she voice at the walkout along with others who participated.
“A big misconception about the students who are speaking out is that we want to take guns away. We don’t want to ban all guns. We want there to be tougher background checks and extensive t
raining like there is when it comes to driving a car,” says Sally Johnstun. “I also think it’s ironic when my generation gets made fun of for our use of technology and how we’re zombies who can’t think for ourselves and we’re lazy and everything, but then when we voice our opinions and actually do something about the issues that are being challenged right now in America, all of a sudden our opinions are disregarded because we don’t have enough experience, and 18 year olds don’t have enough experience. I’m sorry, but if I’m allowed to buy a rifle at the age of 18, shouldn’t I be allowed to have an opinion and be able to voice that opinion peacefully?”
Other students were in agreement with Johnstun. During the time spent honoring past school shootings, students talked about what they are standing for. A peaceful discussion filled with educated opinions and facts were passed around among the group.
Sophomore Abbee Kelly was among those who walked out and spoke of her reasons for participating.
“As someone who chooses to walkout at 10:00 am, not only on April 20 but also on March 14, this means a lot to me,” says Kelly. “I choose to walkout of school not to only protest acts of gun violence but to honor all the lives lost due to school shootings. The protest against gun violence has become a big thing among Gen Z. I am very glad our school district is allowing the kids to protest, as it is their right to do so.”
While out there sophomore Zina Johnstun read off a poem she had written to inspire others.
“I made the poem in English class,” says ZIna Johnstun.” I took in the happenings of what is going on in today’s world. The gun laws need to be stricter and the number if people who have died will just keep on rising. This poem was meant to inspire people to see just how much of an impact this is making on so many people.”
Students all across the country walked out in protest on April 20th. They honored those lost and stood up against gun violence. They can no longer be quiet, they are the ones that will shake everything up, because they are America’s next voters, next politicians, and next generation.