MHS students join national walkout
Some 20 Madras High School students participated in the April 20 National School Walkout, which was joined by more than 2,600 student walkouts across the country.
The walkout was held on April 20, in honor of the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, which killed 13 and wounded 20. Nationwide, it was protesting Congressional, state and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence.
At 10 a.m., the students walked out of class and gathered in front of MHS, with the school officer and administrators watching from the parking lot.
One of the organizers, Sierra Cromwell, asked each student arriving if they were age 16 and interested in registering to vote, then handed them a registration form to fill out.
"You have to be 16 to register, but 18 to vote," Cromwell said after the event, noting she took registrations from around 12 students and will turn them in to the County Clerk's Office.
Jefferson County Clerk's Office personnel backed that statement up, saying the law was changed Jan. 1, dropping the registration age from 17 to 16. They said many school civics classes register students, and that the goal of the Oregon secretary of state is to get as many people registered to vote as possible.
Student Gabby Nambo spoke at the walkout, saying she used to live in West Palm Beach, Florida, 40 minutes from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that killed 17 people in February of this year.
She said the MHS walkout was a peaceful protest organized by a team of students. The question students are asking is, "Is the right to own these weapons more important than our right to life?"
"We need to end this for our lives, our futures, and the lives to come," she said, then read a list of U.S. school shootings since 1999 and the number of people killed in each.
Speaking for herself, Nambo explained why she was participating in the walkout. "I want to be a teacher and I don't want to have to own a weapon to protect my students. We shouldn't have to be in fear at school," she said.
Cromwell said high school administrators had indicated, "If students walk off campus there would be consequences, but if we go back to class they will not be punished."
After about half an hour, the protesters gathered for a group photo, then most headed back to class.
"It was supposed to be an all-day walkout, but we cut it short. A few students went off campus and most likely will get suspended," Nambo reported that afternoon.
No student walkouts were reported at Culver High School or Jefferson County Middle School.
According to the website, the goals of the national walkout, organized by students from the Florida school shooting incident, were to hold elected officials accountable, promote solutions to gun violence, and engage students in the political system.