Students protest at South Elgin High School over concerns about gun violence

  • Hundreds of students walked out of South Elgin High School Thursday as part of a nationwide Students Demand Action campaign by young activists committed to ending gun violence in their communities.

      Hundreds of students walked out of South Elgin High School Thursday as part of a nationwide Students Demand Action campaign by young activists committed to ending gun violence in their communities. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Mitchell Kariuki takes the megaphone to address the crowd at South Elgin High School who walked out of school as part of a nationwide effort to end gun violence. "It breaks my heart that I have to go to school everyday wondering if I'm safe. Every practice drill doesn't feel like a practice drill, it feels like real life," Kariuki said.

      Mitchell Kariuki takes the megaphone to address the crowd at South Elgin High School who walked out of school as part of a nationwide effort to end gun violence. "It breaks my heart that I have to go to school everyday wondering if I'm safe. Every practice drill doesn't feel like a practice drill, it feels like real life," Kariuki said. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Students at South Elgin High School hold signs at the school Thursday after a walkout in protest of gun violence.

      Students at South Elgin High School hold signs at the school Thursday after a walkout in protest of gun violence. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 5/26/2022 4:34 PM

Holding signs with messages like "Protect kids not guns" and "Why is my dress code stricter than your gun laws," hundreds of students walked out of South Elgin High School on Thursday as part of a nationwide effort by young people to help bring an end to gun violence.

"We are so tired of the silence," said junior Izzy Edwards, who helped organize the walkout with her twin sister, Genevieve. "The longer we wait, the more children that are killed. We do not have time to wait."

 

The effort was made in conjunction with the national group Students Demand Action, which urged high school students to protest after the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two adults were killed.

"This is going to continue to happen until we put a stop to this at the national level," said Camryn Cook, who just completed her sophomore year at Jacobs High School and organized a rally Thursday outside of the Community Unit District 300 administrative offices.

District 300 students were already on summer break, but about 30 people turned out for Thursday's rally.

"We have a gun problem in America," said Cook, who organized the rally and founded the Fox Valley Chapter of High School Democrats of America. "We're rallying and showing up to let people know we're continuing to fight for this."

At South Elgin High School, students spent about 45 minutes outside the school, marching around the building and chanting, ending up back in front of the school. Speakers then took turns with a megaphone. One asked, "We are the future. Aren't they going to protect the future?" Another said, "We should not be fearing for our safety in our schools."

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The protest ended with 31 seconds of silence; 21 for those killed in Uvalde and 10 for those killed in last week's shooting in Buffalo, New York.

Sophomore Mars Clements described the experience as "intense" with many students shedding tears.

"Everyone was very passionate," Clements said. "Everyone has a connection to the story. It was a lot of sharing of personal experiences."

Genevieve Edwards said she and her sister were compelled to act after the Texas shooting.

"Each time after a tragic event such as this, it gets talked about for a couple of days, and then we move on with no change," she said. "Thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. We need action and change, which begins with us."

• Daily Herald staff writer Alice Fabbre contributed to this report.

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