On March 14, students of Buffalo High School will join schools all across the nation in a student lead rally at 10:00 am. While schools like Osseo, Saint Paul, and Hopkins plan to have walk-outs for students voices to be heard, BHS will be having a walk-in instead to remember the victims at the recent Parkland High School shooting in Florida. It’ll give students a chance to have their voices heard by teachers, peers, local government, and law enforcement members at BHS. Over 100 students have pledged to their participation in this event, excited to feel like they’re making a difference, and hoping for change.
When Principal Mark Mischke heard about the walk-out, his number one priority was student safety, and making sure it felt like a community event without a divide. This is why he made the decision to change this student lead walk-out into a walk-in, now being hosted in the main gym at BHS.
“I want kids to feel like they have a voice, and I also want them to feel safe,” Mischke expressed as we sat in his small office. He shared his thoughts on the act itself and how he prioritizes the feeling of a community overall; that’s the most important part of feeling safe and accepted in our school.
“In general I see it as a dividing act, because people have to pick sides and there’s a lot of things in this world where people have to pick sides, you see it everyday. In my mind, I thought why should this be one of them? Why don’t we create a situation where people can come together?”
Grace Happe and Chloe Paul
Apparently Mischke wasn’t the only one with this opinion. Junior Chloe Paul and Senior Grace Happe were the founders of this walk-in. Originally planning the idea for the walk-out, they opted for the option that Mischke pitched for them.
“It’s a safer more controlled environment so that it allows admin to be more at peace with the idea while still allowing our voices to be heard and we’re coming together as a community, not only for prevention of gun violence but in remembrance of the Parkland victims,” Happe stated about their movement.
Everyone involved agreed that a walk-in became a safer alternative for student expression. Although Paul felt disappointed that the new idea wouldn’t spark the same amount of energy, she knows her intentions will be reached.
“I guess I just want students at our school to feel like they can talk to each other about stuff thats going on and to feel heard in their opinions, and to know they’re not alone,” Paul said.
As a student at BHS participating in this, Junior Lilly Ragab has strong opinions with intentions for her voice to be heard. When asked about her opinion as a student, Ragab felt this event is meant for people who want to make a change.
“I mean I feel like, you can tell what some people’s intentions are based on how they’re acting about it and I just feel like some people are doing it for the recognition and not because they actually want change or want to make an effort. Walk-outs aren’t places to take cute instagram pictures, they’re a place to make change.” Ragab said.
Counselor Christina Cox
Throughout the week, BHS had other events focusing on student safety – one of them being a day dedicated to lock down drills, helping students understand what they would do in different types of situations throughout the school. Counselor Christina Cox felt this was important in a way that it gave students more of a voice and a chance to express their feelings.
“I think our week’s events do a really good job of trying to give some voice back to students,” Cox said. “Especially at our level, I think our students have tons to share and have ideas and thoughts, and as we try to prepare people to move into real life why would we not try to work with students to kind of give them the chance to make improvements in their own building.”
As an outsider who doesn’t know much about the walk-out, Substitute Teacher Alyssa Olson thinks that it will be a good way for students to become more aware of what’s going on around them.
“I think it’s awesome because it gets people interested in current events and what’s happening. I mean it’s happened to people your age so you should have something to say about because it could’ve been you,” Olson said. “I think that it’s important for people no matter how old you are to take a stand for what you believe in, so I think that it’s really interesting and it’s a good opportunity for people to get involved in current events.”
Reporting by Ava Steinmetz and Devyn Thulin