Farmington High School students, along with others across the country, protested gun violence and school shootings March 14.

Farmington High School students, along with others across the country, protested gun violence and school shootings March 14.

Photo by Sean Work


Farmington Hills students walk out to protest gun violence

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 19, 2018

 Farmington High School students hold up photos of those killed in the Parkland, Florida, massacre during a walkout protest at the school.

Farmington High School students hold up photos of those killed in the Parkland, Florida, massacre during a walkout protest at the school.

Photo by Sean Work

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington High School senior Taylor Terry believes enough is enough. 

Enough gun violence, enough school shootings, enough inaction by political leaders. 

For 17 minutes on the morning of March 14 on Farmington High School’s football field, Terry and 16 others held posters representing the 17 people gunned down at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by a shooter with an AR-15 rifle Feb. 14.

They were part of nationwide event, “Enough: National School Walkout,” in which students protested political leaders’ inaction in response to gun violence. The posters had the victims’ faces on the back, and on the front were the words that together read “Never Again. #Enough.”

 The 17 names were read aloud. 

“I’m really kind of tired of this gun thing and everyone getting pushed around, and I think it’s time that we finally take a stand,” said Terry, adding that it is important that students show that they have a voice. “The meaning of holding the signs is important because that could have been any one of us. … It can be really impactful.”

Organizer and FHS senior Diana Kiefer has also had enough.

Speaking that day, she said that the event is “to honor the lives lost” in the Florida shooting and in other shootings, and to serve as a reminder. 

“They (shootings) can happen anywhere at anytime.”

 The 17 people holding the posters standing in a row also represented examples of potential gun violence victims.

“Do you recognize any of them?” Kiefer asked the crowd of students and school officials standing on the football field. “Imagine these are the (victims of a shooting). These are the people you know and see every day ... gone forever. This is what thousands of students just like you are going through in Florida, and the worst part is this could happen again.”

Kiefer said that “fear has no place” in schools, and it’s time to make the violence stop.

During the event, the students braved cold temperatures and whipping winds to stand for the cause. Some were just in T-shirts, while others stood together under blankets. Some had tears in their eyes. 

Kiefer’s friend, Harrison High School senior Allison Wrublewski, organized a walkout at Harrison and made orange T-shirts that read on the front “#Enough” and on the back list the names of those who died in the Florida shooting.

Kiefer said that this is the first time in her four years at FHS that a walkout has been done. 

Women’s March EMPOWER — an initiative from the Women’s March Youth — helped organize the walkout to protest what they called Congress’ inaction “to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence” in schools and communities, according to  actionnetwork.org.

“We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets, and in our homes and places of worship,” the website states.

Janine Kateff, 14th Congressional District Republican Committee chairwoman, in a press release March 14, disagreed with the walkout approach.

Kateff, a former school principal in Rochester Hills and Ypsilanti, said in a press release that a national walkout will “not add anything” to the debate about school safety.

“Rather, it is a protest of the legal ownership of guns, a right set out in our Constitution,” she said in the email. “This ‘protest’ organized by a national radical group of adults — not by a local group of high school students — is designed to restrict one of America’s basic freedoms. An anti-gun ownership event, held during normal school hours and using taxpayer resources, is a misuse of taxpayer dollars.  Worse, it is a disservice to our students.”

Terry, who described the walkout as a “good message” said that it does make an impact, and she “respectfully disagrees” with anyone who says otherwise.

“It shows that we do have a voice and standing up for a cause,” she said.

Farmington Public Schools Superintendent George Heitsch, who attended the Harrison High School and FHS walkout, said at FHS before the event that the “pretty wonderful demonstration” of student agency and student voice is vital.

“I think it is important for us to provide a safe environment like this for student voice, and I hope that it helps kind of direct the tone of the conversation nationally about school safety,” Heitsch said. 

Harrison High School Principal James Anderson wrote a districtwide email about the walkout, which he described as optional.

“Over the course of the last two weeks, (we’ve) been working with a group of talented and dedicated student leaders. These students came together through their connection to student council, or their own passion and concern for this important topic,” Anderson said. “They have planned a safe yet powerful demonstration.”

State Rep. Christine Greig, D-Farmington Hills, posted March 14 on Facebook a poem that North Farmington High School student Lilly Kollin wrote in response to the latest school shooting. NFHS students, among many others at various schools, participated in the walkout.

The poem encompassed the student’s intense feelings of grief, which bolstered her strength to want to change things:

“Seventeen? That’s less than last time, isn’t it? It’s not 58 country music lovers in Vegas. Not 49 prideful party-goers in Orlando. Not 26 elementary school students, imaginative and curious six year olds in Newtown … I heard there was another shooting. But this time I unplugged my ears, I cleared my eyes. This time … I was damn petrified. Knowing someday our lockdown cover drills may no longer be drills … This time in my 17-year-old mind I made a decision. Enough is enough.”

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