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Organizing student walkouts demands time: how Wednesday’s walkout was planned

Students describe what went on behind the scenes

Keena+Ball+stands+on+a+ledge+as+she+speaks+to+the+crowd+of+people.
Keena Ball stands on a ledge as she speaks to the crowd of people.

Keena Ball stands on a ledge as she speaks to the crowd of people.

Aiden Owen

Aiden Owen

Keena Ball stands on a ledge as she speaks to the crowd of people.

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“We found out two weeks ago that we could do this and we had two weeks to make it feel like something [meaningful],” said senior Keena Ball about how much time she and others put the walkout held on March 14 together.

After getting on the same page as Mrs. Ayers through a meeting to outline what they wanted to do and what they could do, Ball said that “[Those two weeks were] full of late nights, lunch meetings, and a whole lot of cramming.”

Ball was aware that the walkout would attract students who wanted to walk out just to get out of class. “The volunteers spawned from [that] knowledge,” said Ball, referring to the student volunteers identified by the orange ribbons on their lapels.

Those volunteers included seniors Josh Booth and Madelyn Simpson, juniors Hannah Wojahn, Savannah Bogan, Ryan Yancey, Tori Buchanan, Brealyn Hager, and sophomore Mikayla Chamberlin.

The students organizing the walk out got to work planning out what they would do over the seventeen minutes, how they would do it, and how much time the individual parts would take.

“We mostly wanted to get the conversation rolling and make our voices heard,” Ball said.

“We wanted to make it clear that [our walkout] wasn’t anti gun or pro gun; it was about making our voices heard,” Madelyn Simpson, one of the student volunteers said. Simpson added, “The entire thing was up to Keena. She found out about the walkout, did the planning, brochures, and the organizing.”

Ball put together brochures that were passed out to the participators. On these brochures she included the lyrics to John Lennon’s song “Imagine,” which would be sung collectively towards the beginning, and the names of students who had died over the years in school shootings. When finding their names, she also discovered some of their stories.

“It hits you that these [kids] were real individuals with lives who wanted to graduate high school and go on with their lives,” she said about the people she had found.

On March 14, the walkout was held outside the school building. Ball admitted, “I was afraid something would happen, but I was optimistic.” The walkout carried on with no violent disturbances.

“[The walkout] worked out much better than we thought,” Ball said with relief. “[It] makes me happy that there were so many people that were so supportive.”

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Organizing student walkouts demands time: how Wednesday’s walkout was planned