Plans for student led walkout underway


Ria Bhasin

With stacks of flyers detailing the student led walkout scheduled for April 20, senior Parker Butler, along with juniors Dena Assad and Amina Syeda discuss their plan for handing out the flyers and raising awareness for the event.

After the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School took the lives of 17 students and injured 17 more on Valentine’s Day, students of the Parkland high school started a nationwide protest of gun violence with #NeverAgain, organizing a National School Walkout on March 14, where students left class for 17 minutes, one minute for every student who died in the Parkland shooting.

But with the National School Walkout occurring during Frisco ISD’s spring break, at least six students on campus have joined in on the nationwide efforts to organize another walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.

In order to see change, we must be the change,

— junior Dena Asaad

“I try to attend any rallies I can, such as the women’s march and Palestinian rallies etc.,” junior Dena Asaad said via text. “We have noticed that gun violence and abuse is a reoccurring issue that has been talking about for years, yet nothing is being done to solve it. Once we saw the victims from Parkland speak out, we felt the need to stand with them and do the same. In order to see change, we must be the change.”

For junior Amina Syeda, the issue hits closer to home.

“I lived in Connecticut for 14 years, and when I was in 6th grade the Sandy Hook incident took place, a mere 30 minutes away from my home,” Syeda said via text. “I have waited for something to change, for at least one piece of gun reform to be passed, but none came. Thus, now as I am nearing the age of being able to vote and make a difference, we now work alongside with the students of Parkland, Florida.”

To promote the event, the student organizers are passing out orange flyers with information on the walkout.

“The orange flyers were made to increase awareness on our walkout, but the main reason was to inform the student body on the purpose of the walkout and what we will be doing on April 20th,” Syeda said via text. “The flyers consist of two links, one to the signup, and the other to our plan (purpose, where we will be walking, time and date, etc.). We plan on distributing these flyers by hand to students, due to the fact that it isn’t a school endorsed event.”

The walkout will be held during advisory on April 20 with the students having met with school administration before spring break.

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“The school cannot endorse us, for it is a political issue, but we are keeping in contact with them to make sure the walkout goes smoothly and safely,” Asaad said via text. “The administration cannot punish the students for participating, but if a student is late to their next class they will get a tardy for it is state policy.”

In the 1969 Supreme Court case Tinker v. Des Moines, the Court ruled a 7-2 majority in favor of students’ First Amendment rights, saying that students don’t “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

“Although our students have not organized an event such as this in the past, there have been times where students have exercised their first amendment rights on campus,” principal Ashley Rainwater said via email. “Staff members and Frisco police are aware and will work to ensure that students are safe.”

Beyond the walkout, campus organizers will also be helping students register to vote on April 20.

“Our walkout is actually going to be different than many of the other walkouts that were seen on March 10th and the 14th, we will be having voter registration for all students who are 17 years and 10 months old and above, and we will also have a sign up for anyone younger so that when the time is right we would be able to contact them reminding to register,” Syeda said via text. “Not only are we increasing awareness on gun reform, sparking change, we are making sure that everyone has a say in our politics for when it comes time to vote on policies.”

We are making sure that everyone has a say in our politics for when it comes time to vote on policies,

— junior Amina Syeda

In the end, Asaad believes the walkout is about more than just gun reform.

“We are the future, if we want to endorse change, we must take action into our own hands,” Asaad said via text. “We must be the change we want to see in the world. Student activism is incredibly important for we are the next generation of voters. The majority of adults don’t take teens seriously for we are “too young” and “don’t understand.” If we want to change that stigma, we must speak out. With student activism, adults are finally listening to the youth and that is part of the goal.”

This story was updated with an additional quote from principal Ashley Rainwater.