Sign In | Create an Account | Welcome, . My Account | Logout | Subscribe | Submit News | Home RSS
Watch video from the walk out:

On February 14 a mass shooting occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which resulted in the killing of 17 people. The lone gunman used an AR-15 rifle in the shooting. It has now been a month since the shooting. In that month a national conversation has begun regarding gun laws, gun violence and how that relates to school safety. Out of the conversation a national movement has formed. The movement is called March For Our Lives. On March 24, students from all across the United States will gather in Washington, D.C. for the march. Prior to the National March for Our Lives rally, schools across the country and also around the state of Iowa are organizing their own marches. This includes students from South Tama. At South Tama two students, Savanna Lopez and Athena Schrock organized a school walk out on Wednesday, March 14. At 10 a.m. several students, many who wore the color orange, got up from their desks and walked out of the school. The walk out is meant to raise awareness on gun violence as well as gun safety laws. It was also to remember the 17 people who lost their lives in Parkland. For 17 minutes STC students stood in the front lawn while holding signs. Lopez spoke to the students and the walk out ended with students forming a circle while having a moment of silence. After the walk out they returned to class. Students received approval from school administration to participate in the walk out. “I think it’s a good, teachable moment,” said Superintendent Jeff Berger, “I think nationally there is a lot interest in the conversation because of the Parkland thing. So I think freedom of expression is one of those constitutional rights. We want kids to be able to exercise those rights in a safe and productive way. I think helping coach them along to make it productive time and make a positive statement is what schools should be doing.” The debate over gun safety laws is an issue that has really struck a chord in Lopez. She started learning more about Wednesday’s walk out and what it stands for on Twitter. Lopez would like to see more in depth background checks for persons purchasing weapons, better mental health checks set in place, the age to purchase a firearm moved from 18 to 21 nationwide and a required gun safety course. Under Iowa law you do not have to have a permit to purchase a long gun. You do however have to have a permit to purchase a hand gun. Lopez is fully aware that she may receive some backlash for the protest but for her it’s not about taking all the guns away. She comes from a family of avid hunters, including her parents Dan and Dreama Lopez. Lopez herself has done some hunting. “There has been quite a lot of support from my peers but I’ve also had a lot of people calling it stupid saying that it’s not going to do anything,” said Lopez, “Marshalltown did a walk out last week and I’m not on Facebook but people have shown me the feedback and it’s mostly adults that are giving the negative feedback so I’m kind of expecting it. I know that (criticism) is going to come no matter what you are speaking out against.” As school shootings have continued to occur time and time again, thinking about it happening in her own school is never too far from Lopez’s mind. “It definitely makes you a little more scared. Usually around the time (shootings) happen I kind of get a little paranoid in school so if there is a loud noise I kind of get a little scared. I’ve definitely had to think, I wonder if this text book is thick enough to shield me from a bullet. I’ve definitely had those thoughts. We obviously practice active shooter drills and it’s scary. But it’s also not just in schools,” said Lopez. Lopez went on to name the three largest mass shootings and they didn’t occur in high schools. On June 12, 2016 49 were killed in the Pulse Night Club Shooting in Orlando, Florida, on Sunday, October 1, 2017 58 were killed at an outdoor country concert in Las Vegas and on April, 16, 2006, 32 were killed on the Virginia Tech Campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. South Tama did have its own threat made to the school in the fall of 2017. Superintendent Jeff Berger addressed the situation that happened on Friday, October 6 in a column that was released on October 25, stating, “Schools have emergency procedures for this type of thing and we implemented our procedures as we practiced them. Law enforcement officials were immediately involved and all rumor and allegations were quickly and properly investigated. It was determined on that Friday that the threat was not credible. And in the process, we dealt with the student appropriately. We never felt like students were in danger in this situation based on the work we did with the situation directly and on the ground.” As a student Lopez also felt that the situation was handled well and stated that there was more police presence following the threat which made her feel safe. Lopez recognizes that in the past, news regarding school shootings amps up for a certain period of time but eventually the initial outrage wears off. “For me I definitely want to keep voicing my opinion and letting others know that you shouldn’t just drop something just because it’s not on the front cover or it’s not always in the news. I’ve written to Senators and I’m very proactive about it.” One thing Lopez has learned through this process is that her voice does matter. She turns 18 later this month and will be able to vote in the November elections. “A couple of months ago I wasn’t really concerned about voting and I was like what’s it matter, I’m just one person. But it does matter a lot. You really need to educate yourself on who you are voting for because the American people we really don’t think that we do (have a voice) because it’s these big wigs in Washington making the choices but we are the ones who put (elected officials) there.”



I am looking for:
News, Blogs & Events Web