Students Participate in Nationwide School Walkout

District, Administration Adjust Schedule Provide Gymnasium for Rally.

A school wide student walkout took place at Wauwatosa West High School on March 14th to recognize the on going issue of gun violence in America and to support the national walkout scheduled by the survivors at the Stoneman Douglas School shooting.

Students at Tosa West formed a group to initiate a walkout. The group worked with the West administration and addressed that they will allow students to participate in the walkout without consequence. Around the country, thousands of schools participated in the national walkout to honor the 17 students who were lost in the shooting.

“I believe this symbolizes unity for the community. It gives us a chance to put the greater good of the school above our personal beliefs, and it helps us reflect on the epidemic of school shootings that is plaguing this nation” said Wauwatosa West Junior and Walkout Committee member Jenna Harb.

Wauwatosa West is one of the few schools in Milwaukee County that are allowing students to participate in the walkouts. Schools such as Waukesha, Greendale, and Oak Creek- Franklin have decided that they will not allow students to participate in a walkout and if they do so, will receive punishments. The school created a modified schedule for students that would assure that the walkout would not take away time from class. After 3rd hour, students who wanted to participate left their third hour classes and went into the gym to attend the student run assembly. The assembly included a moment of silence and an original poem performed by Senior Sophie Johnson.

Announcements were also made throughout the day addressing the issues of gun violence and mental illness in our country and bagan by saying “This is why today is important”. Although students disagree on the solutions to school shootings, having respectful conversations and focusing on peace will make a change.

Tosa West Senior Bennett Inman spoke at the assembly and said “I may not agree with everyone on this committee, but after attending the meetings and having civil conversations, we all had a common goal of making a change in our community and that change will extend across the country.”

Although the walkout was held in the gym as an assembly, students till took matters into their own hands and walked outside of the school under supervision.“It’s cool that people were aware of what was happening and actually decided to walk out of the school. A change might not happen right now, but if we take it to the school board, our school will become a safer place” said Senior Megan Veit on the Walkout committee.

Wauwatosa West Superintendent Phil Ertl sent a school wide email to the parents of the students at the school. “While we believe time in the classroom is critically important, we also place a high value on affording our students the opportunity to share their voice on issues and engage in civic and social discussions” said Mr. Ertl. The email also reassured the families of students that safety is the most important element in the school and included links to help people become aware of the ongoing issue of school safety.

Wauwatosa West student journalists covered the event for PBS News Hour Student Reporting Labs program.  Their footage was combined with other schools and featured on social media and had thousands of views.  The video can be viewed here.