By Natalie Davila
Brookhaven Early College High School students participated in a national walkout to protest gun violence April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting. The students also remembered the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
ECHS IGNITE members inflated 17 orange balloons – one for every student who was killed in the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida school shooting. According to wearorange.com, orange is used to urge action to honor Hadiya Pendleton, who was killed in Chicago, and to bring attention to the hundreds of lives affected by gun violence every day.
After the school shooting in Florida, students all over the U.S. walked out of school to protest gun violence.
Instead of walking out of classes, Timothy Isaly, ECHS Principal and the ECHS IGNITE club created an event to bring awareness to students about gun violence.
“We did not want to disturb the peace of Brookhaven by walking around the campus where adults are making a very serious effort to improve themselves,” Isaly said.
Brooke Lopez, IGNITE adviser, said, “The students wanted to do something on National Walkout Day and they pretty much built this entire event from the ground on up with Principal Isaly.”
The event took place at Vitruvian Park during ECHS students’ lunchtime. Students played soccer, laid on the grass and listened to guest speakers share their thoughts on gun violence.
“We want to reach out to the Texas House of Representatives and Texas Senate by having students write letters on ending gun violence,” Jocelyn Andrade, ECHS student and IGNITE member, said.
Paying days in advance for lunch, students were given a ticket to redeem their lunch brought by Delicias Food Truck. A group of students sold popsicles to raise money for prom.
IGNITE members from ECHS created an orange banner that read “National Day of Action Against Gun Violence in Schools” painted in white and “We Are Brookhaven Bears!” painted in green. Students signed their names on the banner, and the ECHS IGNITE club mailed the banner to Parkland to show their support.
Sarah Slamen, campaign manager for Julie Johnson, who is running for Texas House District 115, attended the event and spoke to students. “I was 14 years old when Columbine happened,” Slamen said. “I am 33 today and not a lot has changed. One thing that can be different is you guys. You guys are the factor that will make things different.”
Isaly said, “Some group had to be first in empowering and showing students that they have a voice.”
Due to spring break and standardized practice tests, the ECHS IGNITE group waited until April 20 to organize the event to show their support for stopping gun violence. Isaly said, “It was Brookhaven’s newspaper who brought it to my attention.”
Bethany Freeman, an ECHS student and IGNITE member, said before heading back to campus, “If y’all believe y’all do not have anyone that loves you, well I love you, and I do not want to see any of my classmates to be harmed in any way.”