On Friday, April 20, students at St. Agnes Academy joined forces with high school students around the country in the National High School Walk Out torally against school gun violence and encourage the passing of laws to protect students. The Walk Out was held on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, and more than 2,000 schools nationwide participated.
St. Agnes Upper School students walked out of class at 10 a.m. and assembled on the front lawn of the school where they heard from Gabby Salinas, a St. Agnes alumna and a candidate for Tennessee Senate District 31, as well as several student speakers.
SAA junior Talia Shadroui told her fellow students, “You and I are love and strength and courage. You and I are powerful and resilient. Now is not the time for us to stay quiet. Now is the time to speak up. Now is the time to act.” She was followed by St. Agnes sophomore Veronica Thompson who told classmates, “I have had ENOUGH. Enough of the people who told us we didn’t have a voice. Enough silence. Everyone is stronger together.”
Students all signed a banner reflecting on the reasons they chose to Walk Out. Then they returned to their classrooms sending the message that high school students are taking back their schools – reclaiming schools from gun violence.
Prior to the Walk Out, St. Agnes students participated in a series of workshops aimed at teaching the value in listening to another person, hearing their perspective, and attempting to reach a compromise. The workshops included several group activities focused on building empathy.
The Walk Out was coordinated by students in the St. Agnes Facing History and Ourselves program and the Justice, Respect and Peace program. Faculty coordinators are Lauren Boccia and Sara Nearn.
“Our students participated to walk out in solidarity with their peers across the country,” said Lauren Boccia. “Mrs. Nearn and I want to help our students teach other students how to voice their opinion in ways that inspire and motivate peaceful discourse, as well as recognize when to use their collective voice to enact change.”