The Eagle Way

Why I Walk

A Reflection on the Importance of the Unified Walkout

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Why I Walk

Claire Tetro, Staff Writer

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This past Wednesday, March 14th, I participated in the March For Our Lives movement, a national event bringing awareness to mass shootings in America. Students from all across America walked out of class at approximately 10 am to peacefully protest against current gun legislation, demanding the end of the epidemic of mass shootings. The walkout was a tribute to the lives lost this past February 14th when an armed gunman walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and murdered 17 people, shattering the community. As students walked out of classrooms, we all had one unified message: enough. Enough is enough, and we demand an end to gun violence. We demand an end to living in fear. We demand safer communities. We demand change.

As the march had come to an end and students were gathering outside the entrance of Broomfield High, I sat down on the grass with some of my friends, whom I must say, I was shocked to see marching. Exhausted but empowered by the march, I sat in the grass eating my granola bar. I was taking the time to reflect on what I had just experienced when I was interrupted by a fellow student. He asked me the one question that I had been contemplating since the second I learned of the shooting in Parkland: “Why did you march today, Claire?” As a wave of discomfort came crashing over me I explained: “So many reasons…”

It began the day I was born. I was born April 19th, 2000. Exactly 364 days after the Columbine shooting. I remember my dad telling me that he prayed to God that I wouldn’t be born on April 20th. He couldn’t imagine the pain that would be associated with the day of my birth. As I grew up, I was always very anxious. I was constantly worrying about factors beyond my control. It started as a fear of robbers, then fires, then kidnappers, then I learned of Columbine High School.

I must have been 10 or 11 when I sat on my bed, alone in my room, when somehow “Columbine” showed up on the “up next” section of Youtube. Unaware, I clicked. Soon my world was consumed by images of the interior of the building, specifically the library and the cafeteria. Faces flashed across the screen after a trail of their victims. Terrified, I couldn’t look away. I watched video after video until my mom called from downstairs. Breaking away from my trance, I would never look at the world the same.

In the weeks following my discovery of Columbine, I lived in fear of my peers. I analyzed every aspect of my classmates, their actions, their behaviors, their conversations. I searched for exits. I scavenged for hiding spots. Little did I know I would be doing the same thing in a couple years, only then I would be 17 and if it was possible, more terrified.

On the day of Sandy Hook, I remember riding my bike home and walking into the family room to find my mom and dad staring blankly into the television. Normally they would try to shelter me from the cruelty of the world, but this time they were too shocked to move and so was I. Once again, fear came crashing over me.

Over the next five years it seemed as if school shootings had subsided when in reality they were just as prevalent as before, if not more. This time, it was the novel Columbine, by Dave Cullen, that triggered my fears. I chose to read the book for my third quarter AP Lang reading assignment. I was warned by my teacher who claimed that the book gave her  nightmares, but as a prospective criminologist, I took the chance. I don’t want to go into detail about the book as it was amazingly written and I could never condense it into a summary, but to say the least, the novel impacted my life in ways I would never have imagined.

Since the novel, I have found myself increasingly aware of gun violence and the perils of mental health. I slowly and silently was becoming an advocate for better gun control and mental health resources. It wasn’t until January that I realized just how important all of these things are to a safe society.

Before the Parkland shooting, I brought in an article to my newspaper class about a recent school shooting in a small town in Kentucky. A fairly small shooting with two deaths and 18 injured, the shooting lacked publicity. However, I was shocked to discover that at the time, it was the nation’s 11th school shooting of the year, and it was only January 23rd. Furious, I felt hopeless knowing that our nation was riddled with gun violence and nothing was being done to stop it.

Weeks later, the night of February 14th, I was scrolling through my Twitter when I came across videos from the survivors of the MSD High School shooting. The videos depicted students lying on the ground surrounded by blood as a group of students gathered behind a desk for safety. As the video progressed, a police officer quickly ushered the students out of the classroom. Cries from the students echoed throughout the hall as the video panned to three new dead bodies. My initial reaction was confusion as to why the video had been taken in the first place, but moments later I began to cry. Although I had no personal connection to the students, I felt immensely impacted by the video – I was terrified. I was terrified to go to school the next day in a place that is so susceptible to violence. I was terrified that it could have been us. I was terrified that 17 lives were lost and something could have been done to prevent it. I was terrified of what was to come.

Later I learned what was to come was change. Students were the change. Students like everyone at Broomfield, and we could be apart of it.

In the weeks following the shooting, I became proactive as I prepared myself for the day of the walkout. I became educated and hopeful as the event approached. The day before the march, I prepared a sign reading, “What happens when it’s us: #enoughisenough,” as a tribute to those initial feelings I felt when I discovered what happened to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

 

As I walked into the school with my bright orange Broncos jacket, fanny pack, sunglasses and sign, I feared backlash. Even worse, I feared for the safety of myself and my peers as we walked throughout Broomfield. Stuck in a world where fear has become the norm, I made an effort to disavow my fears, as they were contradicting the entire purpose of me marching that day.

As I walked into the atrium, I felt immediate relief as I was surrounded by all my peers that felt just as passionately about this issue as I am. Minutes later, we all marched out of the school taking the first step toward change.

After years of living in fear, I am finally proud to say that we, as a young generation, are initiating the change necessary to change society and safety across America. We as students refuse to be silenced. We refuse to feel unsafe in a place of comfort. We refuse to let one more happen. We refuse because, enough is enough.

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Claire Tetro, Staff Writer

Claire Tetro is a senior. She is co-captain of the varsity poms squad and is involved in Blue Crew. When she isn’t focusing on school work or poms, she...

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