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Despite opposition Madison area students say #enough, plan school walkout calling for stricter gun control

While no Madison area school has endorsed the National School Walkout, many teachers at Madison Memorial High School have voiced tacit support for student participation in the march.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Madison area high school students will participate in a national school walkout Wednesday to support gun control legislation following the Parkland shooting, despite pushback from some school districts.

Starting around 12 p.m., students will march to the state Capitol, followed by a sit-in where speakers, including an anti-NRA parent group, will address the crowd about gun safety in schools and throughout the community.

While no area school districts have endorsed the walk out, teachers at Madison Memorial High School are indirectly supporting students by shifting class schedules and giving students the opportunity to have their voices heard on the issue of gun control, according to Deney Li, an 11th grader and student life editor at the Sword and Shield, the Memorial High School newspaper.

“It’s really important to have student voices heard. It’s easier for teenage voices to be heard by politicians because those student make up 10 to 20 percent of the population now — we’re 100 percent of the future. We have to be the ones advocating for our own change,” Li said.

Students across Madison and the country have been organizing protests for Wednesday using the hashtag #Enough to represent their frustration with current policies surrounding school safety and gun control.

“It’s time for us to take a stand, and the hashtag just represents the fact that we, as students, are fed up with the news and how [often] this has been occurring,” Li said.

However, not all area schools have been as supportive. McFarland High School reached out to students, families and staff regarding the consequences of leaving school.

“Any students who participate in a walkout to attend the vigil ceremony on March 14, will be leaving school property without the express permission of the District. Any District employee who may attend such an event will be doing so as a private citizen, and not in their capacity as an employee of the District,” said Andrew Briddell, superintendent of McFarland High School, in an email to parents.

Other districts have advised parents to excuse their students and discuss safety procedures with them prior to the walkout. At the time of the walkout, students from all area schools will not be supervised by any school staff.

The most recent Sword and Shield article discusses the Parkland shootings with the Memorial High School principal, security guard and many students.

“We have a lot of conversation in our newspaper. We have a lot of articles circulating regarding the walkout. We’ve interviewed our school principal and the organizers of the walk out on their opinions of what is happening and how we can have our voices heard and change reality,” Li said.

The principal at Memorial High School, Jay Affeldt, spoke about the influence of the shooting on their own campus and emphasized the need to boost safety within the school’s community.

“Working together, we can make sure every single student is well-understood, well-supported, and truly connected to our school community. Beyond that, school safety requires strong routines and procedures, including regular drills and practice, and a consistent focus on safety, including making any necessary changes or updates to protocols,” Affeldt said to the Sword and Shield.

Current safety policies at Memorial have remained the same, however there are talks of increasing the number of security guards and officers on school property. But Li said it was still important for students to protest and she noted that the school was working to support students attending the protest.

“Our entire school district has an open attitude towards the situation and Madison being a pretty liberal place, in general, our teachers are all changing class schedules, class plans, tests, in order to accommodate the fact that we will be gone through class on Wednesday,” Li said.

The concern for improved gun legislation does not end at this walkout, according to Li. For many students, this just the beginning.

“We’re fed up on the fact that this is happening so frequently that when we see it in the news, we’re not even surprised. I feel like it’s such a dangerous thing,” Li said. “We should always be hurt and touched and moved by tragedies and stories like these, because these stories have occurred enough times we aren’t as taken aback as we should be.”

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