By SCOTT BRENT
For the Sunday Times
SOUTHGATE – Hundreds of Southgate Anderson High School students left their classrooms and filled the bleachers at 10 a.m. March 14 to memorialize the students killed Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla., and to protest the government’s inaction on gun control.
Those involved discussed their current safety at school, as well as how the general irreverent tone in America has affected their fear. Seniors Ally Ruszkiewicz and Stephanie Glitz, stood up in the bleachers and asked for a moment of silence to respect the victims of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School.
Teachers were barred from participating in order to supervise the students who did not leave the building; however, many of the teachers at Anderson thought their presence would lend support to the movement. One instructor, art teacher Jacqueline McKay, printed out a picture of herself for a student, Emelie Byers, to hold.
Junior Kathi Cuschieri organized the Anderson walkout, and stressed that its purpose was for students to feel empowered when talking about issues that concern them.
“My vision when organizing this event was to spread awareness not only to congress, but to the students who didn’t fully comprehend that a shooting can happen to anybody at any time,” Cuschieri said.
“While meeting with administration, I was asked to not make this event political (or more so about gun control and laws surrounding guns) as they were concerned that it would cause more harm than good to do that. Instead, I simply encouraged my peers to contact their state and federal representatives and make their own voices heard.”
Cuschieri also acknowledged the trepidation among students who did not attend the walkout, saying that some viewed it as an opportunity for a classmate to take advantage of a large gathering and fire at the crowd.
However, one of the greatest obstacles that Cuscheri faced in planning the event was the attitude among students who believed the mission of the walkout was to protest the use of guns in America.
“Many people in the United States right now are under the impression that we are attacking the Second Amendment, and that simply isn’t the case,” Cuscheri said. “While I am ecstatic that the Downriver population has taken this well, I am upset that still, on a national level, this is viewed as a joke.”
(Scott Brent can be reached at [email protected].)