Hays High School students protest gun violence, advocate for campus safety

Campus safety was a primary argument for close to 100 Hays High students Friday who chose to walk out of class in protest of gun violence.

The event, held near the main office, coincided with similar walkouts across the country that were held on the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine, Colo. mass shooting that killed 13 people.

 Friday’s walkout also came in light of a social media threat that launched an investigation by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office, which was later deemed not credible.

 Regardless of the social media scare, students felt the need to have their voice heard.

 “We want this not to be about gun control or taking away guns, but coming together against gun violence,” said Hays senior Brough Cosgrove. “The threats on social media instilled the necessity for our message to get out there.”

 But the protest was not widely accepted by all students at Hays High.

Students who protested against the walkout held signs that read “I’m pro gun, change my mind,” and “gun’s don’t kill people, people kill people.”

A moment of silence was held at the end of the protest for those who lost their lives to gun violence in schools, and students resumed their normal day activities.

Tim Savoy, public information officer for the HCISD, said the school district did not endorse the protest, but understands the students have a right to vocalize their passion.

“If we approved the walkout, it would have been an assembly for the school, which in turn means the district took a position on the issue,” Savoy said. “Historically, protests are effective because there are potential repercussions to the action.”

Savoy said he understands the importance of allowing students to voice therir concerns, especially with such a divisive issue.

Emma Jackson, a junior at Hays High, presented a speech before the crowd at the walkout, citing that students should not be afraid to come to school – an environment that is supposed to facilitate knowledge and academic growth.

“Gun violence should never interfere with the growing and learning of our future generation,” Jackson said. “We need to value the safety of our students before we value our firearms, unconditionally.

Friday’s walkout and protest also featured a variety of emotions as well, as speakers from all grade levels voiced their opinions before their peers.

The walkout was an orchestrated effort to commemorate those who lost their lives 19 years ago and to deliver a message of school safety.

“We shouldn’t be scared to come to school,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, even those who were against the walkout still came out, and that’s a victory for our cause.”

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