A march with many sides


Ron Rigdon

Fox High Students protest along JeffCo Boulevard as part of the National School Walkout on April 20th , 2018.

April 20, 2018, the anniversary of the Columbine shooting, was a day filled with walkouts all over the country in support of gun control. In more recent weeks, walkouts have occurred in some areas in support of gun rights.

At Fox, much like in most schools, students have vastly differing opinions on the matter, as demonstrated on April 20. Some signed out to participate in walkouts. Ryan Sherp, the principal at Fox, said, “We had about thirty-five students that got signed out to participate in some form of a walkout where they left campus, did that appropriately.” Others walked out without signing out, accepting school discipline. Sherp said that “about another twenty-five kids that left without permission and those had school consequences…” While stills others wore shirts in support of gun rights.

Overall, Jim Wipke, the superintendent at Fox, stated in an email to parents that the school district “understand[s] that students do need a voice.” However, in the letter to the staff, which was forwarded to the parents, Wipke stated, “This is the anniversary of the Columbine tragedy, a date where we typically maintain a heightened alert due to its notoriety. With walkouts receiving national media attention, it is  tempting for students to be outside in protest on this day, which creates a potential vulnerability for schools from a safety and security standpoint.” For that reason, the school felt it was unsafe to let students walkout. So when April 20 came, most of the students “went to classes, studied, had a productive day like they should have this close to finals,” Sherp said.

Senior Regan Crisler however, was not one of the students who stayed in school. Crisler got signed out but knows others who did not. “They like decided that that’s what they wanted to do, but I personally had my mom sign me out because I just didn’t want to get in trouble even though it’s something I really strongly believe in,” she said. When asked about the experience, Crisler explained that there was much confusion leading up to the walkout, saying “I actually had to have a meeting with Dr. Sherp because I didn’t know if things would happen or not, what the punishments would be, and then whenever he cleared that up for me, it seemed like the next day everything had already changed again.”

During the walkout, Crisler said the group did not encounter counter-protesters from the school but added that there were a couple different locations when it came to the protests. Overall Crisler’s group “actually got quite a few like people honking in support and it was nice.” Crisler added that there was a woman who came up and “apologized for not looking into who she was voting for as much as she should have, and she told us she was sorry for like putting us in that situation.” However, the group also faced many obscene words and gestures, aimed at them from passing cars. Overall though, Crisler believes that the walkout was a success. “I would say it was worth it because even if I changed one person’s mind that day or got someone thinking even if their opinion didn’t change it’s a successful day,” she said.

I realized that if I ever lost a family member or a sibling to that I would be devastated and so I want to stop that from happening before it happens.”

— Lilly Pribish

Others, like Lilly Pribish, junior, were unable to participate in the walkout, despite support for gun control. Pribish was out of town on April 20, 2018, however, she did participate in an earlier march at Washington D.C. “I want to say breathtaking but I don’t want that to sound like the wrong way because that day was so many emotions fit into one day. I didn’t even know I had some of those emotions until I was there. I was shocked that there was that many people. I was upset obviously, like annoyed, angry, all those, but I was also impressed by all like the different people I saw, and the ages that I saw there,” she said while explaining the day.

Overall, Pribish feels strongly about the movement for gun control, and she explained that a lot of it has to do with where she grew up. “[W]e live so close to St. Louis which is one of the most dangerous cities in America, and so I think that’s something that also kind of made it so close to home was that fact that I grew up knowing people that were affected by gun violence, and I grew up knowing people that had been killed by guns or had hurt other people with guns, and it just all, kind of, it all never seemed right to me,” she said. Pribish added that she didn’t want her family or friends to have to be affected by gun violence. “I realized that if I ever lost a family member or a sibling to that I would be devastated and so I want to stop that from happening before it happens. Like, I don’t want to have to fight for it after it’s already affected me,” she said.

Other students at Fox, much like sophomore Devin Naes, showed their support for the NRA or gun rights on April 20. Overall, Naes believed that the walkout “sort of unnecessary.” He said, “I think that it doesn’t really solve any problems either way whether you’re on that side or not. I think there’s maybe better ways to raise awareness.”

Naes does not support gun control, but he understands the need for safety. He thinks that some things, like explosives, should be banned, but overall “I don’t think they should make it harder to get weapons,” he said.

When it comes to keeping people safe, he believes goals can be achieved in other ways. “Now obviously, you know, we need to try to prevent people from doing something like this, like upping security and stuff like that, but I don’t think we should ban weapons at all. We should keep them similar to how they are.” When asked how he would recommend upping security, Naes said “getting more officers to actually watch schools,” would be good if it was possible. Besides that, he discussed his views on allowing teachers to carry weapons. “I’m not sure about the giving teachers weapons. Maybe if they are trained to do it possibly, but I wouldn’t want every teacher to have a weapon or other students, of course,” he said.