Lakeview students join national movement after school hours

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 15, 2018

 More than 50 students from Lakeview High School and Jefferson Middle School, plus teachers and staff, gather on the track at Lakeview High School for an after-school demonstration March 14, one month after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

More than 50 students from Lakeview High School and Jefferson Middle School, plus teachers and staff, gather on the track at Lakeview High School for an after-school demonstration March 14, one month after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Photo by Kristyne Demske

 Students march around the track chanting, “I matter! You Matter! We matter!”

Students march around the track chanting, “I matter! You Matter! We matter!”

Photo by Kristyne Demske

“I matter! You matter! We matter!”

 

In a school-supported event, dozens of Lakeview High School and Jefferson Middle School students, along with a number of teachers and high school staff, participated in National Walkout Day March 14 — after school hours.

 

“We are here to say, something needs to happen because what happened in Parkland is unacceptable,” said Megan Dombrowski, a junior at Lakeview High School who helped to organize the event.

 

“Despite what changes any of you think should be made, we can all agree that change needs to happen, people need to stop dying,” her co-organizer, junior Erica Beckstrom, said.

 

The pair approached Lakeview High School Principal Scott Kapla after the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left 17 people dead and more than a dozen others injured. While students across the country were organizing a 17-minute walkout for 10 a.m. a month after the shooting, Kapla said that the students wanted to be respectful of the school and of teachers and agreed to hold their demonstration — which he termed an “after-school meeting” in a letter to parents — at 3 p.m. on the high school football field, where they would not break the school’s closed campus policy and could be supervised by adults.

 

“They’re making very positive messages of how to bring all the students into the idea of, all of us in this building to have a place to go to matter, so to speak,” Kapla said.

Dombrowski said, “we weren’t thrilled, but we do understand the reasoning,” about the prohibition of a walkout during school hours. She said she was happy to see teachers taking part to show solidarity with students, as well, which they wouldn’t have been able to do during the school day.

 

“We just want our voices to be heard,” Beckstrom said.

 

“We want everybody’s opinion to be respected,” Dombrowski agreed, which is why the students’ focus was on slogans like, “Your life matters,” “Fear has no place here,” “We matter,” “Be the change,” and “Our lives matter,” and “Not one more.”

 

Lakeview Public Schools district policy prohibits political demonstrations and any allusion to guns, drugs or alcohol, Kapla said.

 

“This is coming behind an idea that all kids in this building matter, even the marginalized kids,” Kapla said. “That’s what their meaning is, it has nothing to do with guns at all. Understanding that our lives matter and that’s the key.”

 

Allowing a political demonstration to promote a specific agenda would open the door for other students who may like to hunt to ask for a walkout promoting the National Rifle Association, or other students to ask for a pro-life political demonstration, he said.

 

“That’s why the district policy is in place ... We don’t get involved in politics,” he said.

 

Lakeview Superintendent Karl Paulson said that he was happy to see student leadership coming together for a common cause.

 

“The important part for me is, this demonstration shows they are serious. It’s not just about getting out of class,” he said.

 

During the event, the students said they didn’t want to live in fear at school.

 

“We walk the halls every single day. We should not have to wonder when your last time will be seeing our friends, family, teachers as we depart into our classrooms,” Beckstrom said.

 

Dombrowski agreed.

 

“Never again should 17 lives be lost due to such a vicious, malicious act of violence,” she said. “Never again should 17 people die because of gun violence, especially in a school where we are supposed to feel safe.”

 

She told the gathered students that she hoped that their activism and passion wouldn’t end that day.

 

“Let this movement continue on after today because through calling, texting, tweeting your Congress members, petitioning, protesting, volunteering, we can truly make the world a better place,” she said. “We can change the world around us if we truly want to.”

 

The students promoted their meeting and are continuing to promote the theme of, “you matter,” on Twitter and Instagram @LHSYouMatter. In addition to contacting representatives in state and federal government, the movement may turn into an after-school club to promote solidarity and inclusiveness among the student body, Kapla said.

 

“Part of this, too, is them understanding how to make lasting or impactful change,” he said. “Seventeen minutes isn’t going to make any kind of lasting change.”