Students rally to demand gun control


Maggie Nielsen

Seventh grader Julia Stuenkel holding the poster she made the night before the protest.

By Maggie Nielsen, Assistant Editor

On a spring morning, a small group of students stood on the front lawn, held signs and chatted with each other as a helicopter buzzed from far above the crowd.

More students trickled out of the building and joined their peers on the lawn. Ten minutes after the official start of the protest, a group of one hundred students were standing in the sun and demanding their voices be heard.

April 20 marked the 19th anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, where two students opened fire inside the school, killing 12 students and one teacher.

Students from more than 20 Chicago high schools participated in a protest that gathered in Grant Park and eventually marched to Federal Plaza.

Lane students held their own protest, which started promptly at 10 a.m. Students were allowed to leave their classes at this time and meet other protestors on the front lawn, according to an email that administration sent out the day before the protest.

“I think it’s important that we show that we’re not OK with kids dying at school, and that we want to see change in the laws,” Julia Stuenkel, Div. 252, said.

Teachers, administrators and security personnel looked over the crowd as students blew bubbles and held posters with the words “No More Names” written in big orange letters, which was the color of the national gun control walkout.

There have been strings of protests demanding gun control since the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14.

Hundreds of Lane students also participated in the national walkout on March 14, which was meant to memorialize the victims of the Parkland shooting.

“That was a memorial for them, but now we want real change, and we’re here to really make a difference,”Audrey Pride, Div. 970, said.

Even though the main protest on April 20 was downtown, most students were not upset that they weren’t there with other Chicago high schools, and were happy with the way Lane’s administration handled the protests.

“This is a nice way to show our community here at Lane,” Stuenkel said. “They’ve handled it very well and let us make our voices heard while keeping us safe too.”

After a brief moment of silence honoring lives lost to gun violence, students from all grade levels came up to the front of the crowd. They talked about their experiences, inspiring others to go vote and email their representatives.  

One student read a speech that she wrote for her English class on the topic of gun control. The protesters clapped enthusiastically after every speech, supporting the various speakers’ messages of unity and togetherness.  

 Since most students are too young to vote, protesters were excited to make their voices heard without having to go to the polls.

“I can’t vote yet, so [protesting] is letting people know that we’re angry,” Pride said.

 At 10:30 a.m., the protest ended and students headed back into the building to their third period class.

The long term impact of the April 20 march is yet to be determined, but protesters hope the march demonstrated that gun violence is unacceptable, and that they want to see a change in legislation.

I hope that the march has inspired the Lane community to care about politics and know that they have the power to change the future,” Stuenkel said.