How We Planned A Walkout

Ella Doyle'19
March 13, 2018

Pictured (L-R) are seniors Melissa Garcia, Olivia Pope, and Francel Colon-Acosta.Editor's Note: On March 7, 2018, more than 600 CDH students walked out of school as a planned protest to bring focus to the topic of school safety. They joined students from Central High School and several other local high schools at the state capitol. Police estimated the crowd at the capitol to be 5000.  

This is an issue that is resonating deeply for many of our students and staff. While this was completely student-led and student-organized, CDH was aware of the planned walk-out and encouraged families to discuss the walk-out with their students and to create a family plan about the student's participation or non-participation.   

Our community, like the country, is diverse in our personal views about solutions to ensure school safety, but there seems to be an impressive solidarity in furthering the conversation so that constructive progress can be made to ensure our schools are as safe as possible. 

Leading this conversation at CDH are the young people, as they are across the nation. We support and applaud our students who want to use their voices to seek and advocate for policies that protect all students from gun violence.

One of the student organizers of the March 7 walk-out wrote this article.

How We Planned A Protest

by Ella Doyle'19

“No more dead kids!” chanted several thousand students as they marched on, through potholes, thawing slush, and blocked-off intersections on the March 7th March for Our LIves.

Echoed by the cheers from onlookers, these students and their message couldn’t help but be heard by parents, media, and lawmakers alike. Like any public demonstration, however, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes.

The March 7th March was something of an eight-dimensional monster that had to be tackled in a week and a half. What began as a few juniors inspired and angered by the school shooting at Parkland High School on Valentine’s Day grew to around twenty people from both CDH and Central High School directly involved in the planning of the demonstration.

We formed the CDH Students Against Gun Violence group. Over fifty students attended the three or four planning meetings before school. If it weren’t for those passionate students who sacrificed time, effort, sleep and in some cases, money, the March most certainly would not have been successful.

Communication Is Key

How do you plan a school walkout that encompasses most of the Twin Cities and metro area? The answer, in one word: communication.

First, we met with CDH administration to inform them of our planned action and to work out a policy on absences. Thankfully, the administration supported us as well as our efforts.

We then sat down with the Associate Editor of the Pioneer Press to discuss the very important student perspective on gun safety.

We also communicated and worked closely with the Saint Paul Police to ensure the safety of students and bystanders, both on the March and at the Capitol.

Finally, we used hundreds of paper flyers to get details out, and we fully utilized our presence on social media platforms to inform and encourage people to join us.

By working together, lots of small, but important details were accomplished. We discussed everything from the March's route, clothing, issue and stances, dates, and more. Whether it was making ribbons to pass out or coordinating transportation options, every bit helped.  

At the March, many of us spoke with Minnesota lawmakers or gave speeches addressing the 5000 Minnesota high school students who rallied on the steps of the state capitol. 

Diversity of Opinion But Common Goal

Despite being a completely student-led group, we sometimes had to rely on the advice of the adults around us. One of the biggest challenges that needed to be overcome was to determine what our communal goal, or demand, would be as we drew attention to this issue. 

One of the values taught and practiced at CDH is diversity, not only in demographics, but also in opinion. While we knew our own personal opinions, and we knew we would be making specific demands as individuals, our organization had to stand for something bigger than us.

After plenty of debate, we came to a conclusion: While we have our own opinions, we, as a student-led organization, demand legislative action.

High schoolers should be focusing on their grades and college applications, not writing bills for Congress. We demanded that members of Congress step out of their black and white bubble, and work towards a solution that everyone seems to know is in the grey area. This mission statement of sorts left room for people of differing opinions to unite under one goal: legislative action.

The planning and implementation of the Minnesota High School Walkout, while extremely difficult considering the time restraints, resulted in a bigger turnout, a bigger demonstration and a bigger impact than any of the students had dared to hope for.

Catalysts for Change

As a CDH student involved in the planning, I would like to personally thank everyone who participated in or followed the March in the news.

We are catalysts for change. Our community can make that change where some of us can’t: at the polls. However you see this issue, whoever you support, and whatever you believe, student safety is an easy issue to get behind and support. Five thousand students have your back, and need your support! The CDH Students Against Gun Violence thanks you for choosing to be a part of something bigger than yourself.

Read the Pioneer Press Editorial:  Students Draw Attention to Gun Violence. (3/7/18)

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