Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Wanting to feel safe in school is only reasonable.
But a recent shooting in Uvalde, Texas, reminded Albuquerque students that is not a guarantee.
So, Thursday afternoon, several dozen of them walked out of Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School in response to the shooting. On Tuesday, an 18-year-old entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, and killed 19 children and two teachers.
“I think it struck a nerve with a lot of students, a lot of them are feeling emotional one way or another, whether it’s, you know, frustration, anger, sadness,” said junior Abigail Merheg. “I thought that this was a good way to sort of channel that feeling into tangible action.”
Students got up and left their classrooms at 2:15 p.m., and gathered on a lawn in front of the school along Jefferson NE near Paseo. Passersby honked in support of their messages – such as “I should be worried about finals, not my life” – which were scrawled on colorful poster boards.
Merheg organized the walkout as part of a national call by Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. She said the group called for walkouts on school campuses across the nation Wednesday, meaning Merheg had only about a day to throw it together.
Merheg said she spread the word on her Instagram story, met with school leaders Thursday morning, and spent much of her day planning.
Teacher Peter Lukes said the walkout was directed entirely by students and that school administration could take credit only for giving them the space to do it.
He said most of the school, minus juniors and seniors who were out of classes for International Baccalaureate testing, turned out. He added that the walkout wasn’t “about policy,” but about speaking up and effecting change.
“A lot of us may disagree on the methods of policy of which we have to take to get student safety,” Merheg said. “But, at the end of the day, I think we can all agree that we want to feel safe at school and we want to feel safe in public places.”