Hickman High students stand in solidarity against gun violence and the lives that were lost.

Anna Spell and Shakira Cross

On March 14, 2018, at 10 am, Hickman students began filing out of the building and onto the North Lawn to peacefully protest recent gun violence in schools. At exactly a month since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the protest was part of a nationwide demonstration.

The walk out was optional, and students would not be punished for leaving class. Hickman’s Student Government sold orange and white t-shirts for $5 in the days leading up to the protest.

“We sold shirts to show unification and make the students look stronger alongside the teachers,” Student Government Vice President Rebecca Shyu said. “CMNEA (Columbia Missouri National Education Association) approached us with the idea of making t-shirts for both students and teachers and we thought that it was a great idea!”

EMPOWER, a youth branch of the Women’s March movement was the primary organizer of the national walkout. The organization’s goal for the nationwide walkout was to honor the lives of the 17 victims, as well as press for stricter gun control laws.

“Student Government heard about various dates like March 14 and April 20th and wanted our students’ voices to be heard,” Shyu said. “We wanted it to be a unified effort and to have more of the school aware of the walkout in order to have a bigger impact. However, we didn’t want it to turn political and take a stance on gun reform – this walkout was in remembrance of the 17 lives that were lost exactly a month ago.”

An estimated 500 students stood in solidarity for 17 minutes of silence as the names of the victims were read at each minute mark.

“This is a display of civil disobedience to protest against injustice in the world,” senior Simon Midkiff said. “This is what we are here for, what I am here for.”

Others echoed Midkiff’s views.

“Yeah, I totally agree,” senior Johanna Nicholas said. “We have to do more than thoughts and prayers.”

Signs and posters of “17 too many,” “We want change NOW,” and “#ENOUGH” were hoisted in protest throughout the 17 minutes of silence.

But not every student that participated in the walk out shared the same perspective. A political statement on one piece of paper read “Guns aren’t the problem, people are.”

“I am a strong supporter of the second amendment,” the student holding the sign said. “That’s why I am out here.”

He was not the only one with a different political view and statement. Senior Saige Wells decided to wear a t-shirt that said “#Stand Up, Not Walk Out.”

“Walking out isn’t enough,” Wells said. “One person can make a change but you have to stand up and fight. The walk out I think is for the visual and that’s why I was there, for the visual.”

Other students agreed with the cause, but not with the form of protest.