‘No more shootings’

Mukilteo students participate in walkouts against gun violence and school safety
By Brandon Gustafson | Mar 21, 2018
Courtesy of: Katie Gustafson Ally Zitzka, Meg Curran, Isaac Heiman and Shannon O’Keefe holding a “Mukilteo Strong” banner at Kamiak’s walkout last Wednesday. The walkout was organized to voice concern over gun violence and school safety in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting last month.

Schools in the Mukilteo School District joined millions of students nationwide last Wednesday, March 14, in the National School Walkout, voicing concern about gun violence and school safety in the United States.

The walkout was exactly one month after the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 14 students and three staff members were shot and killed.

Students at Kamiak High School, Mariner High School, Olympic View Middle School, Explorer Middle School, Voyager Middle School and Harbour Pointe Middle School who participated in the walkout left class at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 people who died.

The Mukilteo School District did not endorse the walkouts, but recognized that students have First Amendment rights.

The school district also didn’t allow media on any of the school campuses for the walkouts.

“Allowing the media on campus also would be a disruption to the school day,” Mukilteo School District spokesman Andy Muntz said in an email to The Beacon prior to the walkouts.

According to an email by Kamiak Principal Mike Gallagher, between 750 and 1,000 students participated in the walkout, a little less than half of the school’s population.

At Kamiak, senior Ketta Davis, Kamiak’s ASB president, helped organize the walkout.

“We had three speakers and one performance,” Davis said. “Alexa McQuade spoke first about demanding action for stricter gun regulations, and gave some statistics about mass shootings. She also exposed Trump for the NRA money he received during his campaign and how Congress needs to stand up to the NRA.

“The second speaker was Megan Yniguez, who spoke about her experience with the effects of gun violence. Her older sister, Ashley, was very close friends with the victims of the (2016) Mukilteo shooting, so she had a very heartfelt message that hit close to home.”

Kamiak students Ellie Kunard and Rowan Skye performed an acoustic version of “Where is the love?” by the Black Eyed Peas.

“That song was extremely moving, and the crowd sang and clapped along,” Davis said.

The last speaker was Kamiak student Niko Battle, who Davis said explained ways students can get involved in making changes.

“(He was) telling us the youth make the changes, and it will be in our hands when we can vote,” Davis said.

Davis said she was pleased with the walkout and that it went smoothly.

“We all felt very safe because there was a big police presence on campus that day,” Davis said. “Because it was pouring rain, it made the people at the rally seem even more dedicated to the issue. It was completely student organized and led.”

At Mariner, students piled into the bleachers at Goddard Stadium.

The Mariner walkout was organized by four Mariner sophomores and was also completely student-led.

“Our school is known for having a bad reputation by some people, but the moment of unity we had, and the way that we came together as a community, it is a moment that shines light over our school,” said Renee Huard, one of the walkout’s organizers.

Huard voiced her displeasure in media not being allowed to attend, and took that as the Mukilteo School District trying to silence students on the issue.

“This story means a lot to us as a school, and even more to those of us who helped make it happen,” Huard said. “The fact that the district tried to silence us is utterly maddening and disappointing to us, so this story getting out is even that much more important.”

Kyra Floyd, another organizer of Mariner’s walkout, believes roughly 700 Mariner students participated.

“Our walkout initially started with about 50 students or so at the tail end of our school at 9:50 where we organized ourselves before splitting to the bottom and top floor and starting our chant of ‘no more shootings’ as we marched down the hall and slowly collected a larger number of students,” Floyd said.

Floyd was one of the speakers at Mariner’s walkout, and spoke on gun violence in schools, citing the number of school shootings that have already taken place in 2018.

“Asking for our safety in the ‘land of the free’ should not be a requirement, but today we are here because it is,” Floyd said in her speech. “We do not have a safe system, by any means. We have a system with loopholes where we cannot afford to have them.

“In 2018 so far there have been 18 school shootings, resulting in 21 dead and 39 injured. Two months into the year and we've lost almost two dozen people by school-related violence.”

Floyd said bringing the community together against gun violence is important.

“My biggest hope is that people understand that we are in this as a community, we struggle together, we fall together, and we stand together,” Floyd said. “I was also trying dearly to convey that guns are not the problem, our system is. The way we handle anything has an effect on everyone and the effect for firearms is negative.”

State Representative Strom Peterson attended the walkout at Mariner and came away very impressed.

Peterson met with a civics class at Mariner this past December, and said students there asked him questions about opioids, sex trafficking, gun violence and gun control.

“While I didn't know what students were leading the walkout, it didn't surprise me to see some of those same students,” Peterson said. “These young people were engaged back in December, and are even more engaged today. I count myself lucky to have been a witness to such civic engagement.”

At Harbour Pointe Middle School, students stood side-by-side on the school’s football field.

Heather Brady, whose daughter is a 7th grader at Harbour Pointe, captured images of the students standing in solidarity, and said she’s proud of her daughter for participating.

“I’m proud of her desire to participate and her courage to do something brave,” Brady said. “Students have been asking politicians and voting adults to finally consider enacting reasonable measures to keep them safe in school so that not one more child loses their life to gun violence.”

Brady said since adults ask the students to do “active shooter drills” that the students have the right to ask adults to do better.

According to Muntz, the walkouts went well in the school district’s eyes.

“Thanks to the great work by the student organizers, the day went very smoothly,” Muntz said. “In every case, the students showed a tremendous amount of respect for others, and there was little to no disruption at every school. Every building administrator that I heard from said they were very impressed by what the students did that morning.”


Looking ahead


Davis and other Mukilteo students are organizing Never Again: Mukilteo, a rally to protest and discuss the effects of gun violence on March 31 at Lighthouse Park.

According to Mukilteo citizen Paul Kramer, Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson and Snohomish County prosecutor Adam Cornell will be speaking at the event in addition to student speakers.

There is currently a GoFundMe page raising money for creating t-shirts, as well as renting a stage, microphone, and speakers.

According to the page, any extra money raised will be donated to the Peace Park project in Mukilteo.

If you wish to donate, visit gofundme.com/vauhf5-never-again-mukilteo.




Kamiak students Ellie Kunard and Rowan Skye performing “Where is the love?” by the Black Eyed Peas.Photo courtesy of Katie Gustafson. (Courtesy of: Katie Gustafson)
Kamiak students hung signs protesting the NRA, blaming Congress for loose regulations on gun control, and threatening to vote politicians out of office if change doesn’t occur. (Courtesy of: Katie Gustafson)
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