Students, administration seek solutions to shootings


Senior Ritvik Bonam speaks at the Allen County Courthouse on February 25 as part of the Students Demand Action rally in response to the shootings in Parkland, Fla. Photo by Nol Beckley

Tauri Hagemann, Opinions Editor

After the shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida last month, surviving students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have been trying to organize protests and ways to draw more attention to the issue of gun control. Many of these movements have drawn national attention, and have Carroll students who plan to participate or help in whatever ways they can. 

One such protest that’s being planned with help from the Women’s Movement’s Youth EMPOWER group is a national school walkout, to occur on Wednesday, March 14 (one month after the shooting took place). Students and teachers are prompted to leave their school building at 10 a.m. and stand outside for 17 minutes, one minute for every student who died in Florida.  

There is also a national walkout being planned for April 20, which marks 19 years since the Columbine shooting. This walkout is being organized by Lane Murdock, a student who lives near Sandy Hook Elementary School (which was the site of yet another school shooting in December of 2012).

This walkout is scheduled for 10 a.m.; however, students are expected to stay outside of the building for 17 minutes to honor the Parkland victims, and then to leave for the rest of the afternoon and not return until action has been taken about the gun violence issue. National School Walkout also supports walkouts that remain in the school building. 

Based off of a poll on the Charger Online Twitter page, a small number of students are planning on participating in the walkout on March 14. Senior Mackenzie Sanders said she understands why there is a protest, but is concerned about the safety of participating in a walkout.

“The walkouts are important to show solidarity with those students in Florida and their message. We never want to have to mourn children’s lives again this way, and we need to be able to feel safe in schools,” she said. 

Despite the message of wanting to feel safe in schools, Superintendent Dr. Chris Himsel has expressed hesitations regarding the walkout in relation to student safety.

“In debating school safety and doing a walkout, you’re actually doing an unsafe act to promote school safety,” Dr. Himsel said.

In walking out of the building, students are leaving the protection of the school building and actually putting themselves into more danger.

“If someone were to do something you’ve advertised to the whole world what time to be there and when to do something,” he added. 

Dr. Himsel is still a supporter of acting for change, yet he suggests a different method of doing so. He proposes that students contact state representatives and legislature, and try to schedule a forum of sorts in which to speak with them.

“The state legislature you will have far more impact on, and the state legislature you will have more voice. The more local it is, the more voice you have,” Dr. Himsel said. 

Principal Brandon Bitting agrees, saying he supports giving students a voice but worries that they’re going about it the wrong way. However, he would be in favor of working with students on something less disruptive to the school day.

Mr. Bitting is also unable to support the walkouts, however, because of the political message that it may send.

“If I support this and help students organize this, and then the KKK comes to me and wants my help organizing something, I have to do it… it’s that neutral stance we have to take,” he said. 

Because of this need for political neutrality, students who choose to participate in the walkouts will be receiving discipline for doing so. Mr. Bitting has said that it will be treated the same as if a student walks out of class on any other day; they will be marked as truant, and will receive a Monday School detention.

So far, though, students seem supportive of a forum or a less disruptive means of making a point. Mackenzie said that she thinks the most important thing to do is to be informed, especially for students who will be voting in the fall. 

“We need to be informed voters and use that tool to voice our opinions,” she said. 

Knowing that students are in support of the idea, progress can start on planning something with local politicians. In fact, the Charger Online staff is currently in the process of trying to work out the logistics for a forum of sorts, where kids from Carroll as well as other local high schools can gather to speak with local politicians and make their voices heard.

Yet another way for students to make their voices heard would be to write letters to these politicians. Mr. Bitting supports this idea. He said that “if they have 400 letters from Carroll students that they have to go through,” then that will help convey the message more clearly than simply walking out of the building will.

If you want to contact legislation via telephone or write a letter, Indiana’s two current US senators are Todd Young (Republican) and Joe Donnelly (Democrat), and the congressman representing the Fort Wayne area is Jim Banks. You can contact any of them by clicking their names above, and the Charger Online will continue posting information regarding any upcoming political forums.