Schreiber holds walkout in wake of Uvalde school shooting

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Diego E. Barrera, Contributing Writer

In the wake of the tragic murder of students and teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, several students nationwide involved with the Students Demands Action organization (SDA) began setting up Instagram profiles to get peers involved in walkouts at  their schools.  According to an article published by Bloomberg on May 25, schools across the United States were preparing to hold a walkout simultaneously at 12 p.m. Eastern.  Juniors Gaia Dash and Emma Janoff, members of SDA and organizers of the Schreiber Walkout, created an Instagram page, @shs.demands.action,  which contains information about the organization’s efforts to place restrictions on firearm access.  The account also serves as a forum for students to ask questions about the walkout, the Uvalde shooting, and the Students Demand Action organization.

“As young people, we understand the critical value of social media, and how powerful of a tool it can be in bringing people together.  I created the Instagram page and followed a bunch of people on it to help get the word spread.  The link to the SDA website is still on the profile because it has great information about the organization and its cause.  The more students involved, the better,” said Dash.

Principal Mr. Jay Lewis and Assistant Principals Mr. David Miller and Dr. Brad Fitzgerald assisted in preparing for the walkout by closing Campus Drive.  Additionally, Mr. Lewis allowed students to be exempt from attending class if they were at the walkout.  The organizers credit that decision for the higher turnout than originally anticipated, as more than 600 students were present to show their support.  

“I wanted Schreiber to participate in the walkout because as students, we were devastated by the events at Robb Elementary, and desperate to see change.  Even if a school walkout won’t directly change legislation, I believe it puts out the message of a united front as students against this issue,” said Janoff.

The Schreiber walkout was not one held with only localized attention; because Janoff had signed Schreiber up to participate in the nationwide walkouts on the SDA website, reporters from ABC7 Eyewitness News NY and News 12 Long Island were present to stream the event on television and the internet.  Videos of Schreiber’s walkout went viral, and excerpts from the event wound up being aired on evening television news for people from across the country to see how the school joined in solidarity for a common cause.

“The walkout was a good way of showing support to the cause of ending gun violence, but it isn’t anything major enough to spark a big change.  They only mean something as long as politicians hear students’ voices and take action,” said freshman Thomas Xie.

CNN reported that there have been over 500 school shootings since the 2008-2009 school year.  The deadliest of all American school shootings occurred within the last 15 years according to statistics from the New York Times; the recent shooting at Uvalde is the third-deadliest school shooting, with 2012’s Sandy Hook Elementary School ranking second, and the most fatal school shooting having occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007.  On May 25, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that gun-related injuries are the most common cause of death in children, surpassing motor vehicle accidents.  With ongoing instances of massacres in schools, families of the affected have grown tired of politicians sending “thoughts and prayers,” and want them to send legislation instead.  However, that will not be an easy change as many believe.

“I think that gun access being limited is a good idea but it wouldn’t help for long.  Most school shooters don’t have licenses, to begin with.  It’s really a matter of first handling the black market and then passing regulations that can limit their access,” said freshman Forest Stulbaum.

The ongoing incidents of innocent children and adults losing their lives are impacting people’s mental health status.  Plain and simple, it is difficult for people to put the pieces together surrounding how and why school shootings continue to occur.

“Those directly impacted by this event and others like it are likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, grief, and exacerbation of existing mental health issues.  As with any tragedy such as this, we all feel intense emotional reactions.  Each person reacts differently so there is no simple answer to the question of impact,” said Schreiber psychologist Dr. Eric Clauss.

Dr. Clauss also says that Schreiber’s guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers are trained to provide support through counseling, assessment, crisis management, and referrals to other professionals.

The shooting at Uvalde has led to national outcry and demands for laws limiting access to firearms.  The United States is the only first-world country dealing with such an ongoing crisis.  Though it will ultimately take more than statistics, conversations, and demonstrations to truly change the system, many believe it is a good place to start saving lives.