Several Groups Clash in AHS Walkout Protest

Armstrong School District administrators dealt with school violence yesterday in multiple forums.

On Tuesday evening, a call went out from the District to parents of students in the West Hills Intermediate School, stating that there has been a threat. According to some parents who related details of the call, ASD said the threat was a known student and police were handling the situation. Although school personnel attempted to calm fears, many parents chose yesterday to not send their child to school.

A request for information at the Pennsylvania State Police barracks in Kittanning was nixed, only stating that it was an ongoing investigation and they would not release details nor confirm the situation.

Meanwhile at Armstrong High School yesterday, a reported number of approximately several hundred students left classrooms and congregated in the Atrium area of the school. ASD officials had warned students, agreeing to permit them to protest, but they could not go outside of the school.

AHS Senior Madison Strotman said she had a distinct reason for participating.

“I went down to remember the 17 teenagers who died,” she wrote in her Facebook post. “I didn’t go down on my views on guns, nor to get out of class. The walk out wasn’t a protest for guns. We held hands and just stayed silent. Until, a group of boys came, with an American flag, chanting ‘pro guns USA!’ They stood and laughed, and in a way, laughed at the 17 children whom died (and the thousands before too.)

Strotman confronted them.

“It was disrespectful. I said so. I should have kept my cool but whatever. I shouldn’t have to worry if my cousin, my niece and nephew, or any children I might have going to school one day and coming back in a coffin, or with scars that will never go away. I told them that.”

Strotman was also disappointed in the way the gun advocate protestors handled the American flag.

“I’ve also grown up in the American Legion community, so I know the flag code. There were two things that you did with the flag of the country you love so much that were disrespectful: the eagle faced backwards the entire time you held it, and the flag touched the floor. I can understand the eagle: it’s hard to notice, but seriously, everyone knows that the flag is never supposed to touch the floor. Ever.

“It was horrible that you came and made a mockery of our walk out and these children’s lives,” she continued in her online post. “This wasn’t about guns. This was about life, specifically the lives that were took far too young by someone who shouldn’t have had a gun.”

National talk shows drew parallels between the current uprisings with those who protested in the 60’s over racial inequality and the Viet Nam War. However, this time, the demonstrations were able to be done on a massive scale – all on the same day – because of students who are linked daily to social media.

It has been 19 years since the first mass school shooting at Columbine High in Colorado. The difference of the past 19 years that has access to information has driven teenagers and young adults to activism. They have the ability to participate in the tragedy with just several strokes on a cell phone.

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