On March 14th, 2018, I walked out for National Walkout Day. I was the only one. The morning started off with an unusual announcement: “ Students we urge you to sit with kids who sit by themselves, make friends with people who don’t have many or any at all. Be the difference. Make the change — if you walk out today disciplinary issues will follow.”
Ironic. A Christian school tells us to sit down when we are told to stand up for what we believe in. My heart was in disbelief. As I became a nervous wreck, worrying about my future I whipped out my phone to make sure my mom was okay with it; though I already knew my decision, and felt God smiling down on me. At 10:00, I stood up, looked at my teacher, and declared, “I’m walking out .” Her and 18 other students in the classroom watched me leave. I was not walking alone, I carried the 17 who died in Parkland, the 28 from Sandy Hook, the 49 from Orlando and those who face gun violence injustices every day. They were with me.
The raw videos from Parkland flashed in my mind. I thought: God’s children are dying and it is my responsibility to scream for those voices that were silenced. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute” Proverbs 31:8 NIV I took my sign (a math paper with a circle diagram on the back of it) that read: 17 minutes for those who lost their LIVES #gunreform. My heart beat sounded louder than my footsteps as it echoed through the bare halls. The determination to represent the tragedies, and the fear of being stopped swirled in my mind. In front of the school, I stood in silence, as teachers slowly drove passed me in the parking lot. I began to pray for the families, for those who had been affected, our government and for wisdom for our lawmakers as well as my teachers. I had no idea what I would return to once I walked inside.
It was 10:18 once I made my way to the doors, which were now locked because of the shift in periods. A teacher stood in the doorway as I made my way inside. “ Where is your pass? “Where are you coming from?” “Where is your stuff?”— she knew the answers to everything but avoided the one question no one from my school wanted to ask: Did you walk out? After I proudly proclaimed my stance, she inquisitively asked if I had missed the morning announcement. I simply said, “No, I knew what I was doing.” She began bombarding me with questions, “You know who we are right, what we stand for? We’re anti-abortion, all of that.” Once again my heart was in disbelief, they believed I had done something “unchristian like”.
How can protecting my brothers and sisters be “unchristian like”? Shock, anger, and disbelief began to stream throughout my veins. Throughout the day, the judgment had gotten worse, another teacher proclaimed marches/ walkouts will not produce any change. The same one criticized me harshly asking, “Do you even pray for the families? Do you even pray?”
I walked away with my blood pressure rising A pastor. A teacher. A role model. An adult. Once teachers heard word of my actions, they looked at me wide-eyed with cocked necks. Students ridiculed me and hoped that I would be suspended. A school who blamed bullying for the actions of school shooters now bullied me. They questioned. They argued. They mocked. God smiled. He continued to bless me for standing up for His children that were brutally murdered— 96 of His children per day. I have had doors open for me since my actions, that would not have been possible without my bravery