Metro schools prepare for walkouts to end gun violence Wednesday
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - A number of school districts across the country and around the Metro are preparing for walkouts to end gun violence in the wake of the latest school shooting that unfolded in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Thoughts and prayers have been said, but when is action going to be taken,” said Odessa Javier. “My mom is a teacher, so it’s always meant a lot to me because I go into school every day not knowing if I’m safe, not knowing if she is safe.”
Javier is a Sophomore at Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School. She has been a vocal part of the effort to raise awareness about the impact of school shootings and loose gun laws in Missouri.
“I started speaking out about it this year when I joined speech and debate. My topic for my original oratory, my speech, was about gun violence,” she said. “And just about the need for change, especially in Missouri – and how horrible our loose gun laws are here.”
Javier is also the voice behind this Wednesday’s walkout on the school’s athletic field, in which district leaders were quick to show their support and jump in to help students.
“We met with the students. We met with the student leaders, notified our local police department [and] all of our first responders,” said Dr. Michael Dittrich, Director of Operations with Maplewood-Richmond Heights School District.
Dittrich said it is important for schools to help students safely organize walkouts, and believes that by doing that students can continue to be a part of the conversation for change.
“We need to come together and realize, as adults, we need to see that students want to be safe, and they have a lot to offer to this conversation,” said Dittrich.
“The hope is really just to join the nation in this because this isn’t something that’s exclusive to red or blue states,” said Skylar Boone.
Boone is a Senior at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville and is leading her university’s efforts to hold their own walkout.
“It’s really important as a teacher candidate at SIUE that I have a classroom that’s safe to teach in and that’s safe for my students to be in,” she said.
These national walkouts will be taking place at noon on Wednesday. While they may only be for a few minutes of the school day, Javier hopes their efforts will continue to send a clear message to leaders in Jefferson City and around the country about the need for gun reform.
“I hope the message is that our lawmakers notice this, and they see that we’re angry, they see that we need change, and it starts with the guns,” said Javier. “If Missouri starts to do something about our loose gun laws, then the nation will start to do something about our loose gun laws.”
Information about other walkouts happening in schools nationwide can be found on the Students Demand Action website.
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