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National Walkout Day

Student Ambassador Stephanie Oliverson, center left, and Student Body President Lance Teske, center right, lead a walkout as part of the National School Walkout Day on Wednesday at the College of Southern Idaho campus in Twin Falls.

Hundreds of students walked out of their south-central Idaho classrooms Wednesday in solidarity with the Florida students who had to run for their lives out of school a month earlier.

At the College of Southern Idaho they stood in silence for 17 minutes — one minute for each person gunned down at the Parkland, Fla., school. At Canyon Ridge, students registered to vote, and in Blaine County, they talked about changing school culture and continuing the conversation beyond one day.

We applaud these students for showing us what democracy looks like. Peaceful assembly is patriotic and has a proud history in America.

Students are restless with their legislators’ inaction on mass shootings in schools. It’s a multi-faceted issue that will take time to solve with better mental health care, school security, and yes, changes in gun laws.

But what can students do now?

Policies on guns and mental health will take time to kick in and even longer to see meaningful change once they do. At the rate mass shootings happen in America, either solution leaves plenty of time for more tragedy.

In the meantime, we offer one immediate answer to the school shooting problem: Extend a hand. Extend a hand to your classmate who is a loner, a victim of bullying or who just doesn’t fit in.

We can debate why it’s so easy for school shooters to obtain guns, and we can wonder why America seems to have a legitimate mental health crisis. But one common thread between nearly all of these shooters is that their time in school was a nightmare.

We don’t blame students for past tragedies.

But maybe some small gestures can help prevent new ones.

Walk out to let law makers know that you will not be silence about this travesty. Then walk up to that classmate and let them know that you care.

Idaho’s students are clearly anxious to enact change. They made that clear Wednesday. So we urge them to continue marching and continue showing us what democracy looks like. But we also urge them to make a change in the culture of schools. Put the cliques aside, put vain social standing aside, and extend a hand.


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