MCPS student activists walk out for gun reform


Photo By Dani Miller

On March 14, there was a walkout against gun violence where MCPS students protested in front of the White House.

By Riley Hurr, News Editor

Thousands of high schoolers walked out of their classrooms and onto Pennsylvania Avenue March 14 to protest gun violence. With posters reading “Enough is Enough” and “Policy and Change” which caught the eyes of many, students from all over Montgomery County and beyond exercised their First Amendment right to protest and urged Congress to pass gun reform laws.

Organized by MoCo Students for Change, an organization created to give Montgomery County students a voice to protest gun violence, the walkout included many schools, each of which had its own directions for walking out. All schools met together in front of the White House and after 17 minutes of silence for each victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fl., the students walked down Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol. Activists and survivors of gun violence also shared their personal stories with the crowd during the march. MoCo Students for Change’s co-president, WCHS senior Dani Miller, along with WCHS school representatives, helped plan the march.

“At the walkout I felt empowered,” freshman and WCHS school representative of MoCo Students for Change Jamie Marks said. “I really felt like I was making a difference along with all the other kids there. I walked out because it is something so important to me. I have not lost someone to gun violence, but I have friends who have. I saw how it hurt them and no one should have to go through that.”

This was the second annual walkout where students were walking out in support of HR8 (the Bipartisan Universal Background Checks Act). With real, tangible results from last year’s march, students were eager to walk out again.

From obtaining permits, to speakers, to stage setup and everything in between, the walkout has taken months of planning.

“There is a Walkout Rep GroupMe where all the active representatives communicate,” WCHS junior and MoCo Students for Change school representative Clare Tobin said. “These reps include students from all MCPS high schools as well as almost every public high school in the county. There are also conference calls on Zoom where people discuss the most immediate planning issues.”

Although walking out on March 14 was considered an unexcused absence, the activists helped make it a no assessment day.

“I first got involved in politics because I wanted to help create change and end the gun violence epidemic in this country,” WCHS senior and MoCo Students for Change school representative Ethan Greenstein said. “MoCo for Change has been working on the walkout for about a month and a half and has representatives from various MCPS schools who meet and then relay information to their respective schools.”

The number of participants has been shattering, with approximately 3,000 students in attendance last year. Students are eager to show their support for the issue and plan to have a walkout every year.

“The walkout last year was incredibly powerful,” Greenstein said. “As a community, we were able to come together to take a stand and show Congress that this fight is not over, which is why we’re walking out again this year.”

Through donations, fundraisers and word of mouth, the walkout was one for the books. After recognition from congressmen and senators as well as others personally affected, the activists are already planning their next event.

“The walkouts are not only meaningful as an individual to take a stand for what you believe in, but are also so unifying and give me so much hope for the future,” Tobin said. “Seeing my peers also want to take a stand and do the right thing is so inspiring. The walkouts are so important and can have such an effect when we all agree to stand together.”