Crusaders show Solidarity with Parkland

Edward Hagerty, Staff Writer

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It’s been just over a month since the tragic school shooting that killed seventeen students occurred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, but the talk of gun control and student safety is as loud as it was in the days immediately after the shooting.

Student activism has gained a new spotlight after survivors of the attack gave speeches in front of massive crowds to encourage measures to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again taking to social media with #NeverAgain and arranging to meet local and national politicians to make changes.

At Mater Dei, students and faculty had a moment of silence and prayer for the victims during morning announcements, but some believe that further action must be taken.

In response to the speeches given by Parkland students, the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER organization has called for a nationwide school walkout on March 14th at 10 A.M., to protest gun violence and encourage federal gun control measures.

At Mater Dei, people have varying levels of awareness of this walkout, ranging from a thorough understanding of the event to not even knowing that an event was planned.

It seems as though the majority of students, like senior Roman Flores, are somewhere in between the two extremes: “I don’t know all the details; I just know it’s seventeen minutes long, for the seventeen students who were killed in Florida.” He seemed unsure what the process of the walkout entailed beyond the initial departure from class, saying, “You walk out of your classroom and then…I don’t know after that.”

In some cases, students from other schools are planning on leaving their campus and demonstrating in front of the gates of their schools, but at Mater Dei, the locked gates will prevent such an action from happening. As a result, students like sophomore Eric Trus are depending on other students’ examples on where to go and what to do during the event: “I would just go with the flow. Whatever was happening, I would just go along with it.” However, Eric isn’t sure if he will even participate yet, citing a lack of understanding for his uncertainty: “I’d have to know more before I make that decision.”

This raises an important question for students to ask themselves before they make the decision to participate: do they really understand the motivation behind the walkout, or are they just looking for an excuse to leave class for a few minutes?

Senior Aislin Hilgeman remains skeptical: “I think some people take it as a way of remembering those seventeen lives that were lost that day, and other people also take it as both that and a protest—which I understand, but at the same time, I don’t really understand the effectiveness of it. I understand the effectiveness of the March on the 24th, but I don’t really get the walkout situation too much.”

For senior Ericka Tapia, the purpose of the walkout is clear: “It’s showing solidarity with these schools and the victims of the school shooters, and saying, ‘Schools, you are part of this. Protect us. We’re willing to take initiative now, you should be willing to do the same.’”

Protecting students is a challenge that Mater Dei has focused its efforts on after the shooting, adding new procedures for classroom safety like keeping classroom doors locked at all times. In an assembly with students, the administration spoke about a new lockdown procedure, but it has yet to be tested or explained to the student body.

However, student safety is only half of what the protest is based upon, the other half being what is perceived as insufficient gun control, a topic that senior Zeke Oakley is adamant about. “In the ideal world for me, civilians wouldn’t be allowed to possess guns at all,” he says, “but because that’s not very realistic as it is now, we should just have much stricter background checks on them, and have them above the age of like, 25.”

Not everyone agrees with him. In one teacher’s opinion, who asked to remain anonymous, it would not make sense to protest gun control in California, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the US, but rather to support protesters in states like Florida instead, where gun control is more relaxed. Either way, the teacher believes gun control is an issue that will be debated nationwide for many years to come.

Jessica Peralta, a senior, attended the event, “It was inspiring to see alll of Mater Dei come together in support of something bigger than us.”

During this time, students said a Hail Mary and at the end of the prayer, they would put a symbolic rose in front of Jesus honoring the students.

Today, student leaders from the JEDI and DEAP clubs led a service to pray for the repose of the souls of the 17 victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last month. 17 Hail Marys were prayed and 17 roses were placed at the foot of the cross in their honor.

Matthew Cordes, the Associate Director of Schools for the Diocese of San Diego said in a tweet that day, “Proud of all of our HS today, who kept our faith at the center of their walkouts. These are the future leaders our worlds need most.”

Students may have shown they remember the past, but they also must look to make changes for the future. The decisions that will be made as a result of the current movement will have a lasting effect on the lives of students for the rest of American history, and it’s up to us right now to decide how big of a part we will choose to play.

Some options Crusaders have are registering to vote and joining the March for Our Lives at Waterfront park in downtown San Diego

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