Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By A. R. Vander Vegt
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

'We won't remain silent'

Moose Lake students remember, honor and start conversations

 

March 22, 2018



Paul has 17 names written on a piece of paper in his pocket.

He may not know them personally, but he’s standing in the frigid March sun with no coat as a tribute to them, he says.

Robin is with him; they are two students of nearly 30 at Moose Lake who walked out of class Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m. It’s a month after 17 people were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Those are the names Paul is carrying with him today.

“We want to remember the people who have died,” Robin says. “People need to know teens aren’t staying down.”

Robin and Paul not only joined their own classmates in this walkout: across the nation, students stood up and walked out, staying outside for 17 minutes in honor and memory of the students and staff who lost their lives.

EMPOWER, the youth branch associated with the Women’s March, called for the walkout. It organized around the call for legislation regarding gun control, including banning assault weapons and requiring universal background checks. When Wednesday came around, the Women’s March website said over 3300 walkouts were planned nationwide. That number only included the walkouts reported to the website — a number that didn’t include the students at Moose Lake.

While other walkouts were marked with signs, marches and rally cries, Moose Lake’s was relatively quiet. Students split into informal groups, naturally inclining to stand with those they were familiar with. Some sat on the sidewalk, others leaned against pillars. Another group stood on the edge of the parking lot. Some were talking, others were silent. There was no necessary rhyme or reason.

Robin and Paul desire to see stricter gun laws. Robin mentions recent talk to arm teachers. She doesn’t see it as a smart solution — even teachers make mistakes and could misuse firearms.

Moose Lake administrators urged students who wished to walk out of class to receive parent permission. If they didn’t have parent permission, they would receive an absence from their class. Most students outside did receive that permission. One student says her mom said, “I support a kid with a voice.”

Permission didn’t make the act of standing up and walking out any easier.

Students say how nervous they were, one saying she was the only one in her classroom to stand up at 10 to leave.

Two reasons stand out as reasons for walking out: first, to honor and remember the lives lost, and two, “Kids are fed up with feeling unsafe.”

Walking out of the classroom is a way to start conversation among their peers, they say, and with their parents and relatives. And they’re not talking about the conversations many of us have; that is, within echo chambers, where we only talk to like-minded people. They’re talking about the difficult conversations with people who feel differently on the issues than them.

One student talks about having hard conversations with his dad, who he describes as “pretty much the opposite” as him.

Of course, the walkout is also a way of bringing attention to the way in which we talk about gun control. They want those in power to remember who is actually being affected by these laws.

When the 17 minutes is up, Robin, Paul and the others file back into the school and keep the conversations going.

The names used in this article were changed.

 

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