Students Engage in School Safety Conversation

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that took 17 lives shook the nation, including Topeka Public Schools students. Since that tragic day on February 14, students across the nation have begun to voice their concern, ideas for improvement and demands for change.

Katie Knouf, junior at Topeka West High School, is one of the students providing insight on school safety and gun violence. Knouf explains that the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida has created an opportunity to bring awareness to the gun safety issue here in Topeka, Kansas.

Knouf, along with the rest of her Current Events class, reached out to Topeka West school administrators to discuss ideas about gun safety.

"We called in our principals and talked with them personally about how they would handle it (school shooting) and what we would be instructed to do. We talked about the drills, how we handle the drills, what we can do better and how we can make the campus safer."

Knouf believes that open dialogue with administrators is just the beginning to finding a solution to the complex issue of school violence.

"I think that we should engage in the conversation, because at the end of the day we are the future, and this is happening to us. We need to take a stand and voice our opinions, because right now in the country we need to get into a healthy debate about what's happening. We need to talk about how to make schools safer."

She also encourages her peers to take safety drills more seriously and to reach out to legislators with their opinions.

"I think that students and teachers should be talking to legislators, because if we don't talk to them, then how do we expect them to hear us. They are not going to know how we feel if we don't speak our voices."

In an effort to allow students a platform and outlet on this issue, Topeka Public Schools has partnered with the national #ENOUGH campaign, created by students across the country. Schools within the district will be participating in a march on March 14 at 10 a.m. to remember the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, as well as advocate for safer schools across the United States. The march is a way to help empower students to voice their opinion.

"Having us participate in the walk out definitely gives us a peace of mind knowing that they care enough about us to listen to us and care what we have to say about it. At the end of the day, it is our lives that we're talking about here. We are the ones that are going to these schools... "

"The shootings are happening in schools, so I think it's nice to know that the district is listening to the students."


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