Santa Cruz High School students filed out of classrooms and down the front steps of the school at about 10 a.m. on March 14, the one month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting that left 14 students and three staff members dead.
“I stand here today for all the students who feel neglected, for all the students afraid to speak up, to tell you that all the pain and suffering ends now,” a student speaker said as she addressed the crowd of over 400 students, staff, parents and community members. “Together as students we can be headlines, we can be news articles’ titles and we will be remembered as a generation that changed the world.”
Schools across Santa Cruz County joined the walkout in an unprecedented nationwide demonstration of students advocating for change at thousands of high schools. The walkout was coordinated by Women’s March Youth Empower with the tagline #EnoughIsEnough. It lasted 17 minutes, one for every victim of the Parkland shooting, across all time zones.
Santa Cruz High School students walked out of the school chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go!” They then proceeded to read essays and give speeches advocating for gun control and encouraging their peers and government representatives to take action in remembrance of the Parkland victims.
“I cannot stand by while lives are being taken,” another student speaker said. “So far in 2018 we have lost over 2,800 people to gun violence and still have 9 months to go. That scares me. I’m a youth and should not have to live in fear of this happening to our very own school or any school for that matter.”
School administration did not sanction the walkout but provided a microphone and space for students to gather and express their First Amendment rights, said Kris Munro, superintendent of Santa Cruz City Schools (SCCS).
The SCCS Board of Education also passed a resolution urging state and federal legislators to take action on gun regulations on March 7 to support student and community safety. The board forwarded the resolution to the California School Board Association (CSBA) so they can present the aggregate of gun-control resolutions to the state legislature in Sacramento.
“I’m very proud to work for a board of trustees that’s so committed to students in our community,” Munro said.
In the month since the Parkland massacre, the federal government has not passed any gun control legislation and students are insisting that more must be done to stop the violence.
In response to widespread outcry, Florida passed a law on March 9 with new gun restrictions. California already has the strictest gun control legislation in the country.
At the end of the 17 minutes, the students held a moment of silence, not just for the 17 Parkland victims, but for all victims of gun violence.
“This has been going on for way too long,” parent Amanda Ghest said, as students filed back into their classrooms. “I don’t want to be afraid to send my kids to school every day and I’m tired of it. I hope that a lot of people are ready to work and make some change.”