By Kat Woodruff-Carter

Photos Courtesy of Matthew Barker

Trigger Warning: This article will talk about school shootings and gun violence.

After the horrifying events in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 24th, 2022, Morgan Creason, Whitney DeLoach, Nathan Linville, and Kaylee Robertson knew they wanted change in this country. They decide to hold a walkout. They spoke with Mr. Pruitt and he gave them the thumbs up for doing this at the end of 1st period on Wednesday June 1st, 2022. 

Morgan Creason spoke first, saying, “I think we all had the same reaction as each other– we were just overcome with grief.” He then mentioned how powerful our voices and votes are. “Everybody here is silent but it speaks; it speaks volumes.” Creason is passionate about standing up against gun violence as he fears for his future children. He wants a world where his kids can leave for school and not have to worry about if they’ll return home for dinner. He supports this fear by saying “Those families will never get to see those kids again; It’s too many.” 

Senior Whitney DeLoach speaks to students gathered in the DHS courtyard.

“We are tired of this cycle,” said Whitney DeLoach, the next speaker.  DeLoach repeatedly referred to this cycle of violence without change as a “rinse and repeat cycle.” This cycle includes public outcry, media attention, and people in power sending thoughts and prayers while waiting for the media to die down. DeLoach brought up the statistics regarding gun violence in America in which 213 massacres due to gun violence have occurred in 2022 and it is the 152nd day of the year. “It’s important to remember that actions speak louder than words and our government is very silent right now.” Deloach leaves us on that note.

Kaylee Robertson is passionate about safety, love, and helping others, which she explains in her interview. “Most importantly, I’m passionate about helping people- everyone deserves help and unconditional support.” She gave the first names as well as the ages of the twenty-one lives lost in the shooting and even mentioned Joe Garcia, one of the teacher’s husbands, who passed away after a heart attack caused by grief. Tears streamed down Hannah McMillians face as Robertson read. We then took a moment of silence to memorialize and honor the lives lost. 

After the moment of silence, Nathan Linville recommended if members wanted to incite change, they should keep using our voices. He went on to name the five representatives for North Carolina. “Write letters, send emails, call their office, let them know that Davie County has a voice” Linville plans on writing letters to all five representatives that will represent in the United States Congress and/or the North Carolina General Assembly.

After the walkout, the Weekly Talon interviewed the walkout organizers. All of the leaders were shocked by the turn-out. DeLoach was brought to tears. Allison Plott, a participant of the walkout, said “The most moving part was the crowd that was brought forth today- the fact that we have students in Davie County willing to come and support the cause. While there was support during the walkout, there was also an overwhelming amount of hate on social media. Leaders were cussed out, but most of the hate consisted of a Snapchat story chain that called the leaders “idiots.” They made the claim that it was going to be a strictly gun-related protest. DeLoach sent out a statement to clarify, which read,“The goal is not to protest taking all guns away; the goal is to 1) honor the lives lost!! And 2) express our anger over the inaction our government takes to stop mass shootings.” Every single leader stressed the point of this being a peaceful and nonpartisan protest. 

Senior Nathan Linville speaks at the conclusion of the student-led walkout.

Nathan Linville decided to be a part of this protest, as he fears for his brothers and parents to be stuck in the crossfire of a school shooting. “This issue affects all of us whether we believe in gun control or not,” Linville continues. “My focus is on making sure a school shooting doesn’t happen in our community or any other, in any way possible.” Morgan Creason wants better background checks and regulations. “It should not be easier to obtain and use a gun than it is to obtain and use a car,” Creason writes. DeLoach reminds everyone that this was a non-partisan event as she offers her opinion. She continues with “There should be, at the very least, be better background checks when purchasing any gun, as well as providing a reason and intent for ownership.” Kaylee Robertson believes access should be limited. “Additionally, more mental health focus needs to be given in the US. For instance: more mental health checks, more opportunities for therapy and diagnosis, more check-ins from schools towards their students.”

Student participants in the walkout listen to speaker Whitney DeLoach.

There are many reasons why people participated in the walkout. Bonnie Taylorcame to honor their lives as well as show support for the change. “Gun violence is a very concerning thing for a multitude of reasons, but what worries me most is the lack of recognition when it comes to the problem at hand because people become too focused on nuances to unite and fix it,” Taylor wrote. Hannah McMillian participated in the walkout because they wanted to know what they could do to help and felt this was a great place to start. Ashtyn Andrews wants laws for regulation. “It is simply too easy to obtain a gun in this country,” she states. Ally Plott has a different approach; she wants more mental health resources. “We all know our world suffers from a mental health crisis, and stopping that is the first step in solving many of our problems,” Plott states. Kaylee Lewis agrees with both of these statements. “I believe that not as many lives would have been lost if these gun reform policies were put in place. It does not solve the root issue as to why people are committing gun violence,” Lewis continues. “I believe that to take this root issue we need to further expand and better access mental health resources.” 

This article is meant to cover what happened during the walkout, why it took place, and what people have to say about gun violence and how to prevent it. The lives lost cannot be forgotten. Makenna Lee Elrod was 10. Layla Salazar was 11. Maranda Mathis was 11. Nevaeh Bravo was 10. Jose Manuel Flores Jr. was 10. Xavier Lopez was 10. Tess Marie Mata was 10. Rojelio Torres was 10. Eliahna (Ellie) Amyah Garcia was 9. Eliahna A. Torres was 10. Annabel Guadalupe Rodriguez was 10. Jackie Cazares was 9. Uziyah Garcia’s age was not released to the public. Jayce Carmelo Luevanos was 10. Maite Yulena Rodriguez was 10. Jailah Nicole Silguero was 10. Amerie Jo Garza was 10. Alexandria (Lexi) Aniyah Rubio was 10. Alithia Ramirez was 10. Irma Garcia was 48. Eva Mireles was 44. Rest in Peace.

Nathan Linville encourages you to spend time researching ways to prevent gun violence in your community. If you would like to see a change, contact your state representatives. Send emails and letters. Call their workplace and effectively communicate what change you would like to see. 

“Our voices matter” – Whitney DeLoach.