School walkout: Do’s and Don’t’s

Feature Photo By: Dennae Pigford- A student poses looking at the website for Aurora representative Mike Coffman. On the website, one can find out information about whats Coffman stands for and how to get into contact with him. 

By Dennae Pigford, Review Staff

The students have spoken. On Wednesday, March 14th there is an planned student organized walkout. The walkout is said to be in support of changing gun laws in the United States and to support the families and friends of those lost in the recent Parkland, Florida school shooting.

At 10 A.M., the plan is for students to walk out of class and peacefully protest in the form of sitting outside the front of the school for 17 minutes to represent the 17 lives lost in Florida, according to the social posts from the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER organizers.

When asked about their knowledge of the upcoming walkout, many staff members — teachers, deans, and campus monitors — said that they were unaware that one was happening.

“Even if it a peaceful protest, there are always consequences. It’s called civil disobedience,” said civics teacher Mrs. Walsh. “You can choose to do walkouts, realizing there is still a consequence for that. You can’t choose to exercise your rights and then complain about having the consequences that come with that — that’s not how it works.”

Some of the consequences that students may face when choosing to walkout is an unexcused absence from class (given that their parents do not call them out of class), a ticket if damage is done to school property, or punishment from their parents who are not on board with their choices, according to Rangeview School Resource Officer Condreay.

For those students who do choose to walkout of class this upcoming Wednesday — or any other time — here are some things to keep in mind to ensure the safety of you and your peers:

  • Stay on the sidewalks and out of the streets and traffic
  • Avoid encouraging others to damage property
  • Keep yourself out of groups who plan to damage property
  • Abide by all local and national laws
A cork board set up to honor the Parkland, Florida shooting resides in an upstairs hallway. The cork board also features a social calendar for students for the month of march (Dennae Pigford).

Regarding trespassing tickets, Officer Condreay said students will not receive one “as long as the staff is on board and has given permission and you guys are staying on school ground. Unless they are not approving of this, there shouldn’t be an issue. I think it would be very impactful if they organized or put together a letter to their congressman or scheduled to have an appearance before state legislature to speak what they want to see changed.”

The representative for the surrounding Aurora and Denver Metro area is Mike Coffman who led a town hall at RHS last week. A common way to get in touch with Mr. Coffman is to email him through his website: https://coffman.house.gov/. Otherwise, he encourages visits to his local office (through appointment only) at 3300 S. Parker Road, Cherry Creek Place IV Suite #305. Aurora, CO 80014, Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm.

“There’s a theory out there that about every 50-60 years you need a social revolution and we’re there,” comments Walsh. “In the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, it was the civil rights movement. It was more about inclusion and so now we’ve hit a point where in inclusion, there seems to be an ageism.”

A piece of advice that many members of the Rangeview community — students and staff alike — have given for doing walkouts, and any other kinds of protests, is to ensure that they are done with purpose and to lead. Many students interviewed wanted to make sure students are not just using this as an excuse to skip class.

“Well first of all, if you’re doing it you better care about it and have a knowledge of it,” says senior Lizzie Stacks and president of the Social Justice Club. “Second of all, stay off your phones, have a goal in mind, and be with friends who care about it too. Just take it seriously.”

Stacks does plan on participating in not only the walkout on the 14th but all upcoming walkouts on school grounds.

Other peaceful protests that students are planning on orchestrating include a march on March 24th and a walkout on April 20th for the Columbine school shooting anniversary. Schools nationwide have been protesting the past few weeks in order to spread awareness for gun violence. 

“I feel like this is the first time in a while that I have hope for the future and that things are going to change because so many teens are taking action and the youth are one of the most powerful groups of people that we have,” Stacks said.

To read a story specific to gun control laws and school shootings, click here.  

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