Maricopa High School students have demanded gun law reform after participating in a demonstration on campus last week.
Students walked out of their classrooms Feb. 22 in tribute to students and staff who were killed in a recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
The local demonstration was one of many that have taken place at schools nationwide. It has prompted students to call on adults for action.
“I don’t think it’s right and I think personally they need to fix it,” said 18-year-old MHS student Kyle O’Hare. “I’m not saying you can fix everything in the world, but try, add more things in, be more strict with gun laws.”
Students used their voices to take leadership of the impromptu protest Thursday. O’Hare and classmate Chaienne Zoller, 17, took leadership of the event after they said some students were not taking the matter seriously.
Zoller said she directed students to participate in a moment of silence for each of the victims gunned down in the attack after O’Hare said a prayer.
“I basically told them, ‘You guys do this every morning for the people who fought for our country; let’s do this for 17 minutes for people who just went to school,” Zoller said.
Students have said they’ve been criticized by adults they know for speaking out but said spreading awareness of their stance is worth it.
After the demonstration, Maricopa Unified School District announced it would hold a school safety forum March 1 at the District Administration Building.
The community meeting will take place inside the Governing Board Meeting Room and will feature a panel of local leaders and public safety personnel who will participate in a discussion with students and parents.
Representatives from other area schools have been invited to attend.
One adult who has voiced his support of students’ right to be heard is MHS Principal Rick Abel.
Students said before he asked them to return to class Thursday, he thanked them for a respectful demonstration, calling their compassion “a sign of maturity.”
“As a member of the MHS Staff and our community, I am very appreciative and proud of the efforts of our students yesterday. We are all saddened by the events that took place in Florida. Our students found a positive way to express our support for the families involved in that tragedy. They were respectful and were great representatives of Maricopa. Our work now is to do all we can to make sure that our campus is safe. Our best safeguard is the willingness of our students to say something if they see or hear something. We are all in this together,” Rick Abel said in a written statement.
Students said they are planning another walk-out at MHS in the future and signing petitions for school safety nationwide.
“We’re not just sitting here; we want change, and people have lost lives and now we’re sick and tired of it,” O’Hare said.
Reporter Joycelyn Cabrera contributed to this story.