Woodrow Wilson High School

Civil rights attorney and former linebacker Collin Allred will join students at Woodrow Wilson High School Friday as they organize a walkout to promote school safety and community. The community is invited to attend the 2:30 event, which will include speakers and voter registration.

Following the shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., high school students took to social media to organize a series of events to promote gun control and mental health support. Students met in Washington D.C. and around the country as a part of the March For Our Lives events to promote their agenda.

Friday is the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting, Woodrow students will go to the football field to listen to Allred and students speak about increasing political participation, the need for stricter gun laws and the importance of school safety and community. Allred, who is running for Texas 32nd district in Congress, graduated from Hillcrest High School.

“Every movement that has ever gotten anything done began with and was led by young people,” says Allred, who participated in a town hall to combat gun violence here in Dallas as a part of the National Day of Town Halls. “It’s important that young people get involved in their democracy. The low interaction is a problem that we really need to solve if we need to keep our democracy thriving.”

Senior Michael Watson participated in a discussion about school safety with Dallas ISD administrators. That’s when he got the idea  for a walkout. “We are not anti-gun, but are pro-gun control and background checks. We want to make schools safer places by being more of a community,” he says. “It’s important to support your friends and those you might not be as close with, because you don’t know what their story might be.”

A series of speakers from all four Woodrow academies will talk about how gun violence has impacted their lives, including a gun owner and a student who has a connection to the Parkland shooting.

When senior Audrey Blumenstock participated in the March For Our Lives here in Dallas, she signed up to become a fellow with Student’s March, the organization founded by Stoneman students after the shooting to increase political activism. She works with the organization to spread awareness around the country about issues that she cares about. “Many people feel like their voice doesn’t matter, that their vote doesn’t matter. We want to mobilize students at Woodrow to go out and make change,” she says.

Blumenstock noted that 97 percent of the country supports universal background checks for gun buyers, but she says change won’t happen unless people know how to impact politics and make a difference. She and Watson are being certified to register people to vote. They will register 18-year-olds to vote at the event.

The walkout is not a sanctioned school event, but Watson said the students met with Principal Roxanne Rodriguez-Cheek and other teachers, who have worked with them to make sure the event is orderly and safe.

“We are educating about what gun control looks like right now and how you can make a change with voting, talking to representatives and getting involved,” Watson says.

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