Written By: Lane McArdell

Today is a changing world. From the start of 2018 there has been 18 school shootings, leaving many students and teachers either fatally injured or harmed. On the Wednesday of March 14th, students of this nation decided to take a stand for our safety at school. Newport Harbor was one of these schools. The aim of this walkout seemed not to hold the true essence of a rebellious walkout but rather, a memorial for those 17 students and staff members who were tragically murdered in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Over the school’s loudspeaker Sailors were called out of class at the start of third period. I, being one of those Sailors, walked out with pride and conviction thinking that I was trudging into the stadium for a new, safer America and to honor those lost in the devastating shooting that occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

When I arrived at the stadium, I felt the unity of all of us students, full of pride that 3/4 of the home side of the stadium was full. Once, everyone was seated, the group of students organizing the event silenced us and began the 17 minute timer that was a tribute to each person lost in the Parkland shooting. This was a powerful moment: having around over 200 teenagers sit silently for 17 minutes is definitely saying something. This 17 minutes was necessary to bring us all together and mourn the loss of safety and security that has stricken our nation’s schools. When the timer ran out, the students in charge of pulling the walkout together began their speeches.  Each was very strong and well spoken. Their words provoked sadness and thought, encouraging us to speak up to our local representatives and to write letters.

However, when the time for an open forum was announced about ten students filed down. After the first two or so had spoken, those who organized the event made a very surprising and disheartening announcement; politics were not allowed to be discussed. The words “gun control” could not be uttered. After feeling so moved and inspired by the loud silence and the speeches of the students, I was very confused at this statement. After all, isn’t a walkout a movement for change? A time to voice our opinions? A time to exercise our freedom of speech and a time for our speech to be heard? It is a loss that we could not be heard and our first amendment right was withheld on Wednesday the 14th. It is crucial that the the students of America speak up. We must speak up for gun control, because no citizen needs to keep an AR-15-style gun in their possession. We need to speak up for more emotional support and psychological evaluations at schools, because students cannot be overlooked and put aside. And finally we must call upon ourselves to be aware and alert of our surroundings, because danger is not always a blinking red light.

The time to speak, the time to act, and the time to be heard is now.