Charlotte Jones and Mia Trotchie could feel the tension among their classmates when the power went out and the alarms went off at Spring Valley High School on Wednesday.
It was just one week after the school shooting in Florida, and these students already had lived through the biggest mass shooting in modern history right in their own backyard.
“After the power went out and the alarms were flailing, I think that was the moment when fear set in,” said Trotchie, a 15-year-old sophomore.
Everything turned out to be fine, but these students still aren’t.
That’s why they’re planning a demonstration on March 14 to call attention to school safety and demand change to prevent school shootings — along with other students across the country.
“Ever since Wednesday, that’s been the main discussion between me and all my friends in classes,” said Jones, also a sophomore. “That’s been the thing we’re talking about, is gun control, safety, fires, fire alarms.”
Change can mean different things to different students, including measures such as increased gun control, better mental health care or beefing up school security.
To freshman Karoline Binelo, who is also helping plan the Spring Valley march, it means metal detectors on campus. Jones thinks allowing teachers to carry guns is a smart idea. Trotchie believes it should be more difficult to obtain a gun.
But one thing is clear, both in Las Vegas and around the nation: Students are fed-up with the status quo and are mobilizing.
Ian Cook, a junior at the private Meadows School, said he hopes to organize some kind of event on March 14 as well.
“The best part about this movement is a lot of people come together and agree … that yes, Congress needs to do something,” Cook said. “It comes from a general frustration, (out) of the publicity of students.”
The national march, planned at 10 a.m. and scheduled to last for 17 minutes, is one of a few efforts that have sprung up after the Florida shooting. Rallies are planned at six valley schools for March 14, as is an event at UNLV, according to the Women’s March website.
Though the Clark County School District warned that students who march out of class could be counted as absent, officials later clarified that students can work through administration or student clubs to plan a safe, organized event.
Kids aren’t the only one reflecting on the events of the past two weeks.
When I called school librarian Cindy Baca on Tuesday, she was researching doorstop devices that might come in handy during a shooting. She is also the mother of two students injured in the Oct. 1 shooting, and she said she has thought about the issue of guns and safety more times than you can imagine.
“I don’t know if there is an answer,” said Baca, a gun owner who doesn’t believe stripping people of their firearms is going to help.
But increasing security at schools and elsewhere might be part of a solution, she said.
“My daughters went to a country concert. Who would’ve thought?” she said. “I think if it’s going to happen, it can happen anywhere.”
But Trotchie thinks the national student movement could at least make such tragedies less common.
“I think it’s really amazing that it’s so widespread and being so embraced by the younger community,” she said. “I think that it’s really important, and it’s finally possible.”