STOCKTON — More than 1,000 Stagg High School students walked out of class Wednesday to add their voices to the chorus of youth advocating for stricter gun laws.
Sara Abdeltawab, Stagg’s senior class president, opened up the 17-minute rally at the school’s football field by saying young people won’t be silenced any longer.
“We’re speaking for an issue that politicians need to hear,” the 17-year-old said. “If all these schools are coming together and saying the same thing about gun control and gun violence why haven’t they made a change yet?”
Abdeltawab and other leadership students lined up to read out the 17 reasons they were protesting, which included a need to limit access to firearms, to exercise their First Amendment rights, to be a voice for the victims and survivors of school shootings and to be a positive change in society.
“Stagg High School is a part of the movement for gun control and gun violence and we’re going to be heard,” she said.
The brief demonstration was also a time to remember the 17 people gunned down Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. A moment of silence was observed following the reading of the victim’s names.
Wednesday’s demonstration was in stark contrast to an unruly walkout on Feb. 23 that ended with dozens of students leaving campus, vehicles being vandalized, and five people being arrested
Stagg Principal Andre Phillips said he was proud of Stagg, especially after the last incident. The leadership students took over planning the walkout to prove that what happened last time was not indicative of who Stagg students are.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar was at Stagg High to show her support for the students and said it was important for the community to hear what the students are saying.
“We’re so proud of them,” she said. “This group is so energized and they’re so powerful and they’re activists for creating change in our community.”
“They represented Stockton beautifully.”
Contact reporter Almendra Carpizo at (209) 546-8264 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AlmendraCarpizo.