INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Nearly two decades later, students in Central Indiana joined others across the country in speaking out against gun violence and demanding action from lawmakers.
Friday was an emotional day for hundreds of kids at Longfellow Middle School as they walked out the doors of their school in remembrance of 12 students and a teacher who died in the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999.
The walkout at the Indianapolis Public Schools facility was all in an effort to not only learn from a violent past, but to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
At 10 a.m. Friday, nearly 300 students at Longfellow walked out the doors of their school at 510 Laurel St., off Shelby Street near the south split of interstates 65 and 70. The student-led walkout was part of a weeklong lesson on gun violence, a topic the youngsters are all too familiar with.
“It’s not something that students are unused to now,” social studies teacher Bethany Jackson said. “It’s like ‘Oh, there’s another shooting. Was this the one last month or was this the one a couple months ago?’ It’s becoming too normal for them and that’s not OK.”
Seventh-grader Virdiana Coria said, “I’m angry because we were reading articles and it was kind of dumb reasons why they decided to shoot.”
Another seventh-grader, Jacob Blanco, said, “You shouldn’t have to come to school feeling scared about whats going to go on today,”
“I hope that people would stop shooting up schools,” Blanco said. “I hope that they would see this (walkout) and say we shouldn’t be doing this because this is bad and it’s hurting a lot of families and other people.”
Seventh-grader Diana Peralta said, “It’s caused by bullying and all the hate. They take it out by anger and on everybody.”
The valuable lesson had students asking questions that often don’t have answers.
It’s an all too real struggle that Longfellow Principal Eric Parquet said he hopes Friday’s walkout will help.
“I wanted them to think,” Parquet said. “In our society right now, gun violence is rampant. We need to think about those things and come up with solutions and not just think about them that they are happening.”
Parquet said social media plays a big role in school violence. Because of that, his staff is keeping an extra watchful eye on student mental health in another effort to prevent a problem before it happens.
Yet for 13 minutes Friday on the football field at Longfellow, the message was clear.
“I just hope they understand that shooting is not always the answer it was never really the answer,” seventh-grader Coria said.