Bakersfield High School students take part in “March for Our Lives” and walkout

Melissa Puryear, Managing Editor

March For Our Lives, a 17 minute- walkout was scheduled in schools at 10:00 a.m. on March 14, across the nation, in honor of the 17 people whose lives were taken on Feb. 14, in a Parkland Florida high school shooting. The Walkout was also to protest the inaction on Congress’ part to address gun violence that would keep school children safe. Bakersfield High School, took part in their own way, with some students who participated in the walkout and other students who wished to remain in their classrooms for three minutes of silence.

BHS Freshman, Malichi Braxton, 15 and BHS Senior, Victoria Zaragoza, 17, were among the students who wished to remain in class and in this way honor the 17, as they took their minutes of silence in their seats with their peers.

According to Braxton, who is also an ROTC student, BHS’s official response was to allow students the choice to remain in their classrooms or participate in the walkout. He opted to stay in the classroom. About his decision, he said, “I felt like it was something I needed to do because of what happened.”

“We’re all students and we’re all kids.”

Zaragoza said, “Some of my classmates did still do the walkout, but Mr. Reese (BHS’s High School Principle) went over the intercom and said ‘you can do it if you want to but we’re also doing a moment of silence, cause he knew that a lot of kids wanted to participate in some way, but they didn’t want to have an unexcused absence.”

The Kern High School District, while encouraging kids to remain in their classrooms, permitted students to also take part in the walkout if they wished. Those students who took part in the walkout were still subject to the school district’s attendance policy, according to a letter released by Lisa Krch, the public information & communications manager for the Kern High School District.

Zaragoza also said that Mr. Reese [BHS’s principle] said that the moment of silence was a way that they could participate, and that he said, “as a school we should do that, either way.”

She said she “felt good,” about honoring the students in Florida.

“All four years of high school they taught us empathy. That was a part of the Driller Way, so to see that, to see how our school handled that situation, I liked it.” said Zaragoza.

She also said that she felt the school’s proactive planning was a way of saying to the students at BHS that, ‘this is what we’re going to do as a school so you can feel that togetherness, that unity that we feel,’ so I like that we did that.”

She said that what happened in Parkland is the kind of crisis no student should have to think they will encounter at school because there is an expectation for safety when students are on campus.

She is hopeful about her generation and the future they are willing to invest in with their voice and their future political participation.

She said “we’re students. We can’t vote. We can’t do anything legally yet, but at least we can give them that moment of silence and a walkout. I like that our generation is getting involved. We’re going to be the ones growing up voting and if we don’t have this education, we don’t know what’s going on, we don’t have our own opinion, that can hurt us.”

Although she says that gun rights are important to those who are lawfully vetted, she remains concerned because the world still remains, “a very scary” place.