A sea of students engulfed Santa Monica High School’s football field to deliver a message to Congress, lawmakers, and the gun advocates: Never Again.

“This will not be our reality, our children’s reality, our brother’s or our sister’s reality,” Roger Gawne, a freshman at SaMoHi said to thunderous applause from fellow students.

“This will,” Gawne briefly paused.

“Never,” Gawne said, a symphony of shouts reciprocated with, “Never!”

“Happen,” the crowd roared back “Happen!” with applause, accompanied by clapping and shouting this time.

“Again! We stand with Parkland against guns!”

Gawne and a vast majority of SaMoHi joined students nationwide in a school walkout to support Parkland High School students and gun legislation. Students at SaMoHi spilled out of classes, into hallways, with bodies constantly flowing into the football field as SaMoHi’s rally/walkout occurred. Speeches were given in remembrance of lives lost in Parkland and a moment of silence was given as well.

The organization of the event for SaMoHi was largely self-organized by students with teachers and staff lending a helping hand maintaining the student’s safety as well as providing them with equipment to help elevate the students’ message.

With the word “ENOUGH” written on her palms with thick black marker, SaMoHi student Lea Yamashiro was inspired by Emma Gonzalez’ activism and spurred into action reading about the events of Parkland. Knowing she “had to be involved in any way” to prevent Santa Monica from experiencing a mass shooting, Yamushiro helped organize the publicity aspect of the walkout, helping to organize a sub-committee to effectively reach out to students, the public, and media.

“We wanted to focus on honoring the victims. It (Parkland) was rattling to us, it really hit close to home,” Yamashiro said. “We wanted to show that despite what people think or say about kids or students, about our age or inexperience or inability to vote, that we at least have a voice. We need to have a voice. This is so much more important than just our school, and just ourselves. We need our voices heard on this issue.”

Aidan Blain, a sophomore at SaMoHi, says the issue of guns isn’t a partisan issue to young, impressionable minds; to the students participating in the walkout, it’s a matter of life and death. Blain says his fellow peers actively worry about being killed in school, going so far as to look for possible escapes in class now.

“Students across the nation are scared for their lives,” Blain said. “Politicians, with this issue, they know what’s going on. Us as students, we’re letting them know that we care about this issue and this is something they can’t just give their thoughts and prayers too. Thoughts and prayers are nice if you make a change.If you don’t make a change, thoughts and prayers don’t mean anything.”

angel@smdp.com

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