The Protest


Picture credits to Bailey Fritz

On February 14th, 2018 — also known as Valentine’s day– there was a deadly school shooting at  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Seventeen lives were lost that day.

One week later here at Lenoir City High School some students went outside when second block began to have a moment of silence for the lives that were lost from the shooting in Florida. As the clock struck ten, more students walked out of their classes and came outside. There is no approximate number, but there was an estimated fifty to sixty students outside in the parking lot of Lenoir City High School that day. Many of the students were out there to show respect for the lives that were lost, and then there were some that probably just wanted to get out of class.

As the first hour went past of what students are now calling “The Protest,” a few students came out into the middle of the circle that everyone was standing in to say a few words. Some students were talking about the lives that were lost and how frightening it is that that could happen to them. Nicholas Moser (10) was one of the first students to speak out in the circle.

“To be honest it felt really good. I could sense there was some anxiety about speaking and just, I felt like I wanted to do it. I wanted to say what was on mine and most people’s minds. I was nervous, yes, but it felt like an accepting atmosphere every time I spoke and other people have told me even though they had anxiety they felt comfortable speaking out there,” said Moser.

From everything that Moser said that day in the circle, he feels as if it really made a difference.

“The whole walkout made a difference if you look at it. Every little bit counts. The Civil Rights movement didn’t happen overnight, but look what we did with the walkouts. The first one in the East Tennessee region and then more started happening. But with many schools walking out in many different regions of the country, even major news networks acknowledged the walkouts,” said Moser.

Moser was one of few who decided to speak out that day. Despite how nerve racking and frightening it may have been, Juliette Hollaway (10) was also another student who decided to speak out quite a few times.

“The other students who had come out to voice their concerns really inspired me. At first I was scared but when you’re in a crowd with the same goal, it’s very easy to speak your mind. I believe we all made a difference–speaking our minds and discussing these things with our administrator, they really did make an impact. I can already see improvements being made to our school’s security.  I felt, at first, afraid to come out, but I wanted to speak and honor the students and faculty who had passed away in Florida, and use my time to speak about what I was concerned about, including security and a better approach to the safety of our students and staff every single day.” said Hollaway.

Many students spoke out in the circle that day to show their respect for the lives that were lost, or to even share their opinions on how we need more security in the school.

Although the students were outside that day for about two hours, the initial intent of that day was not for them to be out there that long. Angel Moore (11) and Jimmy McFalls (12) help organize the walkout that day.

“Me and Jimmy wanted to do something for the whole school, we wanted to show that we wanted this madness to come to an end! We felt amazing [at first we thought] that we would only have six kids, but we had tons. We were shocked, but we were kind of upset because some people turned into something it wasn’t,” said Moore.

Moore loved the turn out of the walkout that day, but with this kind of situation some administrators would have to be involved. No students got in trouble for walking out of their classes; Coach Bowling and Mrs. Long were both outside observing the kids.

The administrators and teachers were not the only ones out there that day, around eleven o’clock that day 10 News showed up when they caught word of the students walking out and peacefully protesting in the parking lot.

LCHS was indeed one of the first schools to do this in East Tennessee, but definitely not the last. After everyone caught word of the walkout more schools started to do the same thing, to take a stand for more protection in our schools and pay respects to the lives that were lost. Oak Ridge High School, Roane County High School, and Clinton High School are some of the schools that participated in a walkout. Students are hopeful that more schools, including us, will participate in the nationwide walkout on April 20th, 2018.

Ultimately that day the students were not really supposed to stay out there as long as they did, but no one got in trouble. Some students did decide to stay out there until 3:30 — which was a little excessive some students said– but everyone meant well. Every student that spoke out that day felt like they made a difference, and everyone just wants to be safe in our schools and not have another tragedy happen.