More than 60 students, some with tears in their eyes, left their Tehachapi High School classrooms at 10 a.m. Wednesday to respectfully gather on school grounds to support the movement for gun control and remember the 17 people who were killed on a high school campus in Parkland, Fla., a month ago.
Students reflected with 17 minutes of silence and displayed small homemade signs.
Following the silent reflection, some students walked over to the main gate and commented on why they believe gun control is important.
“We need change,” said senior Ashley Alcaraz. She added, “We are not just going to sit back and take it, is basically the message, and we are honoring those people by standing there for those moments.”
Gun control is on the minds of the high school students. Some expressed concern about regular citizens having access to automatic weapons.
“I think taking this step toward social change is even going to change this idea in America that’s even something you can step towards and something you can do and making even these minor gun laws will change that social idea that this is OK. Because even in America it’s kind of a fanatic thing that these guns are so important,” sophomore Kaylee Brown said.
Some students also questioned whether the Second Amendment to the Constitution has the same relevance as it did more than 200 years ago. They added that guns available at the time the Constitution was written were not the same as those available today.
“It was also written for the people to defend themselves against the government. We don’t have that problem right now. So why is it so important?” Alcaraz said.
The students who gathered by the gates said the event was organized by social media and that various people posted messages for more than a week.
Yvonne Direnberger, a Tehachapi resident, stood at the gate and waved a sign in support that said, “Never again. Support our children. Save their lives.”
When one of the students came over she said “I support you.”
School officials supervised the demonstration, but did not interfere with students. No disciplinary action was taken against students who walked out of classrooms.
Principal Scott Heitman wrote in an email to Tehachapi News that, "School officials did not organize or assist in the organization of the campus demonstrations. However, we allowed the students to exercise their constitutional rights under the supervision of school personnel. Students were not allowed off campus."
Heitman added that there are 1,250 students enrolled at THS.
The Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., killed 17 people. A teen gunman is accused of opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle.
Students around the country walked out of school on Wednesday. Other walkouts are planned for later this month and in April.