In conjunction with schools across the country, a group of 68 students walked out of Cottage Grove High School (CGHS) on Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. to push for gun control and to remember the 17 students that were killed last month at the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The students gathered around the sign near the front of the school where they made a circle and locked arms on the grass as they stood in silence for 17 minutes; a minute for each student killed in Florida.
With a handful of community members gathered on the sidewalk in support, the students then ended their silence by marching around the parking lot as they chanted sayings such as “the NRA will have to pay”, “bury guns, not kids” and “we’ve had enough.”
“We felt that even though we’re a small school and stuff, we felt like we also have a voice,” said junior Arleth Serratos who helped organize the walkout.
“We want tighter gun control, we want to do this for every school shooting that has been happening because it’s not okay. We deserve free and safe education.”
As the conversation about school shootings and gun control persisted throughout the nation and was often led by students, a group of students at CGHS – a school of approximately 740 students – wanted to make their voices heard. Serratos, a member of the CGHS MEChA group, met with school administrators about what could be done. The group put out fliers while members and other CGHS students began spreading their message across social media platforms.
“I honestly, I was so surprised,” Serratos said of the turnout. “It was kind of emotional because it shows that our school cares. It shows that students, they want to be a part of something, they want to show what they’re here for.”
“It’s just crazy because we are just students and I wouldn’t have thought that that many people would have come out. Especially because we’re a small school and the part where we’re located too, we have different opinions. Just to see people come together and unite and show that respect for every minute is just, it was amazing to me.”
In preparation for the event, South Lane School District put out guidelines that they hoped students would abide by including staying on campus and that they would receive an unexcused absence but attendance would be taken once students were back in the building.
“I would say it was a somber event… I think it was done respectfully. It wasn’t like it was a skipping class party. They had a point of view and you could see by the way they came out and the way they acted that they had a point of view,” said principal Mike Ingman.
“In terms of educational process, for those students it was a very important that they were involved in that. So for them I think it was a really good event and went as well as it could have gone.”