In Their Own Words: Christian Teens on School Shootings

Rylee: “Yes. She made this huge sign and was holding it up and she put a video of our school’s walkout on her snapchat and it showed, there were, all the students who were out there made a circle all around the football field. It was like a closed circle, that’s how many kids there were and I was amazed to see how many kids there were because they were like shoulder to shoulder and they were like linking arms and holding hands and all of this and they were so passionate about what they were fighting against. And there were signs and some people had small enough signs where they would put a rope on it and put it around their neck and walked around wearing it throughout the school day. I think it all just goes back to, like I think of it, going back to what you said earlier like we’re the generation of mass shootings, I wouldn’t say that. I would say more, we’re the generation of the media. And everything that happens, everything we do, we have to put it out there on media saying, oh, I did this, I was with the walkout and look what I did and all of that stuff. And I think it has kind of pulled our generation further from God because it’s all ‘look what I did’ not ‘look what God is doing through me.’”

Maina: “Gotcha. I want to come back to that question about the media and everything being seen. Did any of your friends walk out and what did they say they experienced?”

Tyler: “Well, at my school we had a planned walkout and ultimately after the county sent out a letter saying you’re not allowed to miss class time…..”

Maina: “The plan got squashed.”

Tyler: “Yeah, everybody was like, what do we do now. And there was an actual planned time walkout where after school we would silently walk down to Town Green, which is like the Duluth town center and people would speak maybe and hold signs and they would do their walk out technically after school there.  But people still decided they wanted to walk out during class today so I think that was….most of my friends participated in the walkout that occurred after school but I did know a few people who went down and participated in the walkout during school hours and they, yeah, like Rylee said, it was all over my snapchat stories, it was all over my instagram feed. I was just kinda like, this is never going to happen again. We’re stepping out against this, we’re going to fight this, what’s going on by protesting these types of things.  And that’s basically all I saw all day. It was just weird to see how everyone was just plastering it everywhere.”

Maina: “Do you think your friends are doing this from true conviction, you know when it comes to school and gun violence or are they doing it because it’s the cool thing to do?”

Andres: “I had a couple of friends walk out today. Some of them walked out just to walk out, to miss class. Some of them walked out because they had actual feelings about it and then there was others that walked out because, I have a friend, he’s a sophomore and today our principal, he mentioned that if we were to walk out, the people who walked out got referrals.  And after that email got sent out, I’m pretty sure half the school left the entire class or left after 10 for 17 minutes. So after that……”

Maina: “So half the school still left even though they could get a referral?”

Andres: “Yeah, they were supposed to get a referral….”

Maina: “So in spite of….”

Andres:  “It just spiked up even more people because they wanted to speak out against it….But a lot of the friends that I had did speak out and they were actually doing it because they had an actual feeling towards this. Me personally, I was told, right after the Parkland shooting, if I were still to be living in Miami, that’s where I would be living—Parkland. The high school that was there, I can’t remember the name….Stone Douglas.  So I was supposed to be going to that high school, so I was going to walk out but I just couldn’t do it because I heard about the referrals and I didn’t think walking out was worth it to be missing class for something like that for that kind of thing. I think there’s a better way to show what I am passionate about. What I am feeling towards what is going on today.”

Maina: “Do you respect your friends who did walk out?  Who decided, hey, they were there to show their conviction? Do you respect why they did it? You respect it though?”

Andres: “Yeah.”

Maina: “There’s another big rally at the end of the month. What do you think it will accomplish?”

Tyler: “I think that walking out, all across the country, all across the state, all across the country is a big deal deal and it gathered a lot of attention. But I think that if people think this is all they can do and oh, I made a point, I walked out, people know about it now, that that’s going to bring change, they’re wrong.  If they are serious and people are serious about making a change and making sure that things change in our society and the world we live in, then they’re going to have to continuously act and continuously push forward because it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight or happen with one countrywide walkout.  It’s going to be something that is going to need to be fought more and they’re going have to know that they have to keep fighting for it and they’re going to have to keep showing and changing things to make it happen.”