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2018: A Year of Student Activism

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2018: A Year of Student Activism

Houlton Dannenberg, Reporter

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The 2017-2018 school year was filled with political movements across the nation, such as the #MeToo,  #TimesUp, and the #NeverAgain Movement. Although each movement was inspiring in its own right, the #NeverAgain Movement worked its way into the classroom to an extent unlike the others, and students at West High made it their own.

The Parkland Shooting affected the entire nation when students began to speak out against the NRA and for more restrictive gun control. Since the Parkland Shooting on February 14th, 2018, there has been the March For Our Lives and thousands of local school walkouts/sit-ins across the nation.

At the first school walkout, just a week after the Parkland Shooting, West was led by senior Haley McKinley. “I knew I just had to be a part of the movement they’re organizing,” McKinley said. “Really what it came down to was that I wanted to be a part of it…then I realized that it was up to me to involve myself in the situation.” McKinley’s walkout, although impromptu, gathered support and hosted multiple unrehearsed speakers.

Seniors Janpal LaChappelle and Corin Katzke gave speeches attesting to the importance of gun control.  “I spoke because it bothers me that a religious dedication to an outdated constitutional amendment would prevent passing legislation that actually helps people and prevents death,” LaChappelle said. Katzke followed LaChappelle, saying, “it should be the responsibility of the government to enact common sense gun reform to prevent a shooter in the first place.”

The walkout was just the beginning of the local movement, as the worldwide March for Our Lives was held on March 24th. With hundreds of thousands of participants, the March was a blatant message of teenage political power and resilience. Students from multiple schools in Anchorage worked with local police and the city to host their own March. From West, juniors Elsa Hoppenworth, Jingsia Hathorne, and Burke Croft assisted in pulling off the effort. Hoppenworth, who was one of the first speakers at the March for Our Lives, was quoted in the New York Times: “those who do not contribute to change contribute to our death.” The week before, President Trump had announced a ban on bump-stocks, but was largely criticized for being too little too late.

After the March, more nationwide efforts were made. On April 20th, another local walkout was held. Hoppenworth, Croft, and McKinley, with a small group of other student organizers, joined together to lead scores of students in remembrance of previous school shootings and to, once again, call for gun reform. Signs featured at West’s second walkout included “Grants Not Guns” and “I am Stronger Than Fear”, a quote from women’s right activist Malala Yousafzai.

Although all seniors will remember 2018 as the year they graduated, some students will remember 2018 for their participation in a youth-led political movement. In 50 years, as graduates pull out old high school yearbooks and relish in the “good old days”, perhaps a sense of pride and satisfaction will roll over them as they remember the way they helped shape their world.

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13 Responses to “2018: A Year of Student Activism”

  1. Levi on May 9th, 2018 1:20 pm

    WOW I really like seeing West students putting themselves out there. Students can make change too!

  2. Arita Konjuhi on May 10th, 2018 11:24 am

    I like how schools put themselves out there. And I like how Hayley was brave enough to lead the whole walkout.

  3. Kristina Yu on May 13th, 2018 1:25 pm

    This was a great article! As a student, I think it is important to talk about gun control and safety at school.

  4. Kristina Yu on May 13th, 2018 1:25 pm

    This was a great article! As a student, I think it is important to talk about gun control and safety at school.

  5. Dina Elmostafa on May 14th, 2018 7:28 pm

    These are truly inspiring actions taken by youth in this community! I know that youth in my community have a strong and fearless voice, which can (and will be) heard. These are the kind of actions that will help Anchorage (and even the country!) know what changes we would like to see. Keep it up!

  6. lilyana on May 15th, 2018 1:36 pm

    love the flow of the piece

  7. Almudena on May 17th, 2018 8:19 pm

    I love how Hayley went up and spoke. She overall empowered us. And she has an empowering voice. Love her!

  8. Sydney on May 17th, 2018 11:31 pm

    I really love how the article starts and ends by looking at the big picture. This is an important topic, and the author covered it well. This article makes me feel like I was apart of something big. I also really love the picture, it captures the mood perfectly.

  9. Kayla Tyree on May 18th, 2018 11:47 am

    I think the walkouts were a great idea. They allowed students to show their support for the Parkland shooting victims while empowering the students of West.

  10. Nick Smith on May 18th, 2018 1:45 pm

    It’s great that students are letting their voices be heard by standing up for what they believe in and pushing for change.

  11. Matt on November 16th, 2018 9:47 am

    This is an incredible arcticle

  12. Patrick on November 16th, 2018 9:57 am

    Powerful and great story.

  13. Bubba Mendoza on November 16th, 2018 10:02 am

    Your picture really did justice to the peice

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2018: A Year of Student Activism