by Terry Rogers
On March 14, 2018, one month after Nicholas Cruz opened fire on his former high school in Parkland, FL, high school children across the nation planned a “National Walk-Out” in order to draw attention to the need for better gun control laws, safer schools and in memory of the 17 students who died during the school shooting. The walk out was to be for 17 minutes starting at 10 AM to honor those students.
In an effort to keep students safe and to avoid any student leaving campus, Milford School District provided a “safe zone” in the gym of Milford High School for those 17 minutes. Students were not to leave the building and public access to the school, including the media, was restricted.
“We continued with regular instruction within our classrooms throughout all of our schools,” Dr. Kevin Dickerson, Superintendent, said. “We did have students who chose to go to an indoor location, outside of their regular classroom location, on our secondary campus for 17 minutes. Our students responded in an orderly manner. Some students were sincere in utilizing the time for meaningful reflection. We appreciate the cooperation of our students, staff and Milford Police Department. We, first and foremost, focused on maintaining the safety and security of all our students, staff and families in our schools.
School Resource Officer, Sgt. Robbie Masten, said that the district had multiple discussions on how to make the day as safe as possible for students.
“After learning there was the possibility of students across the nation using March 14th to bring attention to school safety issues, I was contacted by the administration,” Sgt. Masten said. “We had multiple discussions about how to make the day as safe as possible for our students and staff. We developed a plan that we felt allowed the students a safe place to participate if they elected to do so. As a precaution, we also placed additional officers at the campuses throughout the district in addition to those already assigned as School Resource Officers. We have a strong partnership with the Milford School District and the safety of our students is a priority. We are committed to making sure this day was no different than as far as safety was concerned.”
According to three students who participated in the event, the initial phone call from the district was that students would not be permitted to “walk out” on March 14. Parents were initially told that any student who walked out of class could be written up and face disciplinary action.
Gloria said that the students decided to walk out of class to prove the point that enough is enough. She said that this should have ended with the Columbine shooting, yet there is Virginia Tech, Sandy Hook and now Parkland.
“I fear that guns put students in danger,” Gloria said. “It takes a toll on us every day. We are tired of seeing kids dying and hurt. We are tired of seeing kids on television crying because their friends have passed away due to gun violence. It is hurting us as students because we just don’t know what will happen while we are at school each day.”
MHS student Kaylee said she felt passionately about preventing school shootings especially when it comes to stricter gun control laws. She feels that the age to purchase a gun needs to be raised to 21 as well.
“I have done research. I know gun statistics in this country and in other countries. I know that Australia had a school shooting in 1996 and passed strict gun laws. There have been no school shootings there since that time. I’ve studied countries like England and am keeping up with bills and laws. I pay attention to any legislation related to stricter gun control and how to prevent school violence.”
MHS student Cameron wanted to attend the vigil in memory of the 17 students who died.“I believe that guns in America are causing all this violence,” Cameron said. “So many shootings in one year and it has only been a few months. Too many Americans are turning to guns as the only answer and it needs to stop.”
Cameron sees bullying as a significant problem but points out that bullying has been happening for a very long time.
“I think bullying is causing some of this, in a way,” Cameron said. “But, I think it is more about their home life and how they were raised. A kid who is bullied who is living in a home where people shoot things and where they are taught that the answer to everything is to shoot it, that is where there is a problem. Although bullying is a part of it, it is not the only part.”
All three students firmly believe that the age to purchase a gun should be raised to 21. Kaylee said that she and none of her friends were mature enough to handle a gun, so it did not make sense that they were allowed to just walk in and purchase a weapon.
“The military conducts extensive background checks and provides a lot of training on how to use a gun,” Kaylee said, when asked why it should be okay for an 18-year old to enter the military where they were issued a gun, but not allowed to purchase one on their own. “The military is a disciplined environment. I get that people hunt and use guns for sport. I get that families engage in activities involving guns. I am not advocating banning all guns. I think if you are under 21, you should have to get a form signed by a parent before you buy a gun or require your parents to be with you.”
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