Bettendorf High School students walked out of school on Feb. 21, along with many other students across the country, to support the 17 lives that were taken in the Florida shooting and to advocate for gun control.
About 60 students gathered outside the main entrance for 17 minutes and listened to empowering speeches given by Bettendorf students.
Student speaker Zoe Allert, a junior, stressed how “our goal is to make this tragedy the last of its kind” and that “the Parkland shooting was the last domino that erupted a flame within the student body.”
Junior Ryan Longenecker, another student speaker, said that “we are the strongest and loudest voices there are, and it is up to us in order to make that change.”
All of the students had different reasons as to why they decided to participate in the walkout.
“I came out to represent the 17 lives that were lost in the Florida shooting. It’s pretty sad that a teenager, even our age, can have a gun and be able to do something like that,” freshman Gretchen Johnson said.
Katie Kuhel, a sophomore, came out in support of gun control.
“I wanted to raise awareness about the gun control laws, and I wanted to actually do something. We need better gun control laws because this keeps happening and it’s happening too often,” Kuhel said.
John Eaton and Zebulun Wright, juniors, wanted to “give a voice to those who don’t” and emphasized that school shootings “aren’t right and we need a change and speak out.”
Although the students were going to have an unexcused absence by participating, students agreed that the cause was more important than the consequence.
“A lot of people did not walk out because it was an unexcused absence, and their record could be hurt, but I would like them to know for their future, it’s worth it,” freshman Ava Abbott said.
Some of the student body thought the walkout was foolish and wasn’t going to change anything. Junior Skiler Gabel had an influential message to those who thought that.
“Everybody should know that this matters, and it shouldn’t be happening, and that we all care. Even though a walkout in Iowa may not directly impact the gun control revolution, we are showing support for a powerful student uprising,” Gabel said.
Many students argued that Americans should not be able to own an AR-15, the weapon used in the Parkland shooting.
“I feel like people shouldn’t be able to have an AR-15 and I don’t understand the reason for it. You don’t use it to hunt animals, and it’s really a gun for killing people, it’s made for war,” junior Blake Tyler said.
Olivia Vincent, a sophomore, went on to talk about the corrupt nature of politicians.
“I think it’s immature, degrading and inhumane that the government refuses to change the laws because the NRA is paying politicians. I want our congressmen to realize these people are not worth any amount of money, and we can’t keep letting mentally ill people be gun owners,” Vincent said.
Senior Shoaib Farooqui expressed his thoughts on what congress needs to do.
“I think that the senators have to put aside their ideologies and party norms and focus first on approving/creating a bill which values the safety and protection of all people. Then, focus on protecting their rights to bear arms,” Farooqui said.
Student voice is a recurring theme of the student uprising against gun control and senior Kassidy Sutherland explains why.
“Student voice matters, and everyone has a say and deserves to say something about what matters to them. The biggest message I want to send is to pay attention, it doesn’t have to be extreme but we need to do something about it, we can’t just let it pass by,” Sutherland said.
Whether or not a person is in support of gun control, these students are sending a powerful message to not only Congress, but all of America.
“I don’t understand why people think that it’s a more important right to own a gun when this is our future, and these kids died. They were at school, and that’s ridiculous to me,” sophomore Allie Laird said.