Editor’s note: this story pairs with “BYU students participate in #NationalWalkoutDay”
Students from several Utah Valley high schools participated in the #NationalSchoolWalkout Wednesday morning to protest Congress’ inaction regarding school gun violence.
The national walkout took place exactly one month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida. Students around the nation walked out of school at 10 a.m. in their local timezones for exactly 17 minutes to represent the 17 victims who died in the Florida shooting.
Mountain View High School
A throng of students filed out of the front of Mountain View High School to observe 17 minutes of silence.
Every minute, the students who organized the event read out loud a name of a student who died in the Florida school shooting.
Students and administration alike solemnly stood in a circle, some holding hands, in silent protest.
Jamille Zimmerman, an 11th grade student, said many students didn’t agree with the walkout, but overall she felt like everyone was respectful. Zimmerman said she spoke to a student in her Spanish class who didn’t seem to agree with the idea.
“But when we were out there I saw his face in the crowd, and I was so amazed to see like these kids that I didn’t expect to be out there that were out there,” Zimmerman said.
Zimmerman also said teachers didn’t push back against the protest.
“It was really awesome of the staff to come out and make sure everything was safe and that we were not going to break any rules, obviously,” Zimmerman said.
In November 2016, a Mountain View student stabbed five students and them himself in a locker room. This incident motivated some students to participate in the walkout.
“If that kid had a gun, those 17 names could’ve been one of ours,” said 12th grader Ashlyn Cook. “The way they got him in custody was because he couldn’t stab people … If he had a gun, he could’ve just shot them.”
Kelsey Beard, a 12th grade student, agreed the stabbing would have been worse if the attacker had a gun.
Beard said for her, participating was about “wanting to make a change because it’s such an awful thing that keeps happening,” as well as honoring the 17 students who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.
Marissa Crist, a 12th grade student, said she participated to remember those who died.
“People are scared to go and learn at school where they should feel safe, and that’s not okay,” Krist said.
Mountain View High School Assistant Principal Belinda Talonia said she thought the walkout was “very well done.” Talonia was an administrator when the stabbing happened in 2016.
“It was powerful to be able to come back together as a school and to remember where we stand, what we’ve overcome, and to be able to stand in solidarity with other schools that are going through situations that are more difficult than ours,” Talonia said.
Timpview High School
Hundreds of students poured out of Timpview High School in Provo at 10 a.m. They gathered in a municipal field on the side of the school. The “official” walkout lasted for 17 minutes, after which many students returned to their classes. Others remained until 10:25.
Several students were asked to prepare speeches, including Nick Childs, a 17-year-old junior.
Childs said he spoke because he felt strongly that “the system” failed the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. He said the Parkland, Florida shooter was on an FBI watchlist for years, yet somehow he had possession of a gun and was able to get into the school with it undetected.
Truman Childs, Nick’s father, came to the school to support his son and the walkout. He said he thinks it’s good for kids to get involved and for them to have a view of the issues of the world they live in.
“It’s not easy being a kid in today’s world,” Childs said.
Another student shared a poem commemorating the victims of the Parkland shooting.
Students Hunter Meyer and Cohler Lloyd participated in the walkout. They said the students were not excused from class, but they participated because they wanted to do something to show their support for the students in Parkland, Florida. They said what happened there wasn’t right.
“We’re just trying to do something to show that we care,” Lloyd said. “And there’s a couple teachers out here too, which makes me think they support it, too.”
Diego Miloa, a senior at Timpview, said his school generally has a lot of school spirit, so he thinks it’s cool that so many students have used their spirit to show support for the students in Florida.
“I think this will show that we all have a voice and we want to be heard,” Miloa said. “And schools aren’t entirely safe, but what else can we do?”
Miloa said he doesn’t think gun control will ever be a good solution because there will always be too many conflicting opinions for a good solution to be reached. He said his participation was to show his support for Parkland, not necessarily to advocate for gun control.
Marné Isakson, a former teacher at Timpview, showed up to the school to voice her support, as well.
“I want sensible gun control,” Isakson said.
Four of Isakson’s children attended Timpview. She said she is concerned for children’s safety, and she thinks people can take care of their families, and even hunt if they want to, without semi or full-automatic weapons.
This story will be updated.
Reporting: Jenna Alton, Lilian Whitney, Sahalie Donaldson, Katelyn Stiles, Katie Harris, Laurie Bradshaw and McKenna Park.