I will not sit on the sidelines and watch adults put us down. We are not too young to understand politics. We are not too young to understand gun violence. We are not too young to understand death, and we are certainly not too young to be active in our communities.

You constantly tell us to be leaders and make a difference in the world around us. You teach us about historical figures who took it upon themselves to be the change they want to see in the world. However, the moment we stand up and try to make this change ourselves, you try to shut us down, but I refuse to let that happen.

The mass shooting in Parkland woke up our generation to the deep rooted problem our country has. We were born in a post-Columbine world, numb to active shooter drills and lockdowns. Every few months, we watched news coverage of the most recent school shooting, almost unfazed, but that ends here. We are sick and tired of letting this cycle of death continue, and we are an unstoppable force that will not rest until we see the change we want to see in the world.

Of the entire population, this issue should matter most to us. This is our safety on the line at school. This is our livelihood. Even though a single walkout may not be enough to create change on its own, it’s a start. Joining thousands of other schools across the country, our walkout will show those in power that we are watching and that we are dedicated to the cause. It shows them that we are concerned and that we will continue to march, rally, and stand up for change until we see them take real steps to ending gun violence in America.

This is my generation, and we aren’t just leaders of tomorrow. If the adults won’t take action against the vicious cycle of gun violence and mass shootings, then we will be the leaders of today, too.

Part of the purpose of education is to make us active, educated citizens of our community. This walkout is just about as active as it gets. Don’t try to put an end to a valuable experience that may spur a lifetime of active citizenry.

To those who think we’re too young to form an opinion for ourselves, we aren’t as ignorant as you think we are. Yes, to an extent, a high schooler may not have as much experience as a grown adult, but some adults know less about politics than high schoolers, and regardless, every person can feel empathy for those who lost their lives in that horrific shooting and stand in solidarity with the victims. The walkout isn’t brainwashing anyone. The rally is apolitical, and as a speaker for the event, I can confirm firsthand that the speeches won’t promote any single agenda. It will only promote active participation in the community and standing up for the solutions each of us individually believes in.

To those who fear that the rally may put us in danger, this is entirely false. The walkout is organized, structured, and will remain securely in the school building.

To those who think this will take away from class time, it will only be 17 minutes. Seventeen minutes to give students who care the opportunity to let them stand up for real changes that this country desperately needs. If they want to, let them walk, but no student will be forced to join in. All students can choose to stay in class and continue learning. Yes, you might get a few people looking to just cut class, but the walkout will be controlled, monitored, and taken very seriously by most, if not, all of the students involved.

We are all concerned about our safety, and we want to make the difference your generation failed to achieve. Don’t try to stop us from expressing our beliefs. We are not just high schoolers caught up in our lives and Internet challenges. We are human beings fearful for our lives, and we are passionate young leaders who will fight for a better tomorrow.

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