March for Our Lives is less effective when sponsored by administration

As soon as news of a national school walkout went viral, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) superintendent Meria Carstarphen wasted no time in making an APS event revolving around it. The end result was a 50 minute program including student speakers, locals coming out to protest with students, and a long lap around the track in protest of gun violence. When APS decided to sponsor the walkout, they diminished the impact of the walkout and they strayed away from their sole duty as a school.

According to, a walkout is a sudden angry departure, especially as a protest or strike. Even if the walkout isn’t directly against the school, the suddenness and impulsiveness of thousands of students leaving their classes to go stand outside speaks volumes. Grady High School administration in coordination with the Student Government Association decided to create a schedule around what students should do and when, which takes away from the suddenness and makes it more of an educational program.

Grady High School administration gave students two options: go to stadium for the protest, or stay in the cafeteria for the duration of the program. The problem with this is that two options is too black and white for what students believe in. Students who feel like there should be something done about school safety, but don’t necessarily believe in gun control may still go to the walkout. Or a student who thinks that guns are a problem but don’t care enough to go out and protest might end up outside because that’s where their friends are.

This is problematic because students who aren’t taking the protest as seriously cause serious disruptions and ruin the experience for students who are trying to listen to the speeches. This was especially bad when it came to the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. The crowd couldn’t remain quiet for 17 minutes. In the end, the program included 17 seconds of silence, which still wasn’t even completely silent. If the walkout was actually a walkout, in which students had to leave class to participate, this would lead to more students who actually care deeply about the protest and are willing to leave class to show that.

A school’s principal objective is to provide students with the knowledge they need to make their own decisions in life, such as in politics. Therefore, they must remain objective. However, when a school openly supports a political movement, then it loses its objectivity and subtly influences its students. Not only can it influence its students, but it makes the students who have differing viewpoints to feel less welcome, because it can makes students feel that their school is against them. Even at schools less liberal than Grady, it is important the school maintains a neutral viewpoint and not make students feel any more right or wrong then their peers based on their political views.

While I do agree that the school shouldn’t have provided punishment to those who chose to participate in the walkout, the idea of having an exclusively student run event never took to fruition. The message of the protest was very clear and certainly made an impact within our community, but it would’ve resonated more with the city if it wasn’t school-sponsored.

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