Moffat County High School student speaks about Wednesday walkout
CRAIG — Joining a nationwide movement, 30 to 40 Craig Middle School students and one student from Moffat County High School walked out of school at 10 a.m. Wednesday to mark one month since the deadly shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida
High school senior Aaron Hill was the lone student to walk out of the high school. In a Wednesday interview with the Craig Press, he shared his motivation for walking out, his views on gun control and what he hoped to accomplish by protesting.
Craig Press: Why did you choose to walk out on Wednesday?
Aaron Hill: My mom raised me to stand up for others and understand my responsibilities, to voice my thoughts and my opinions. My generation needs to make a stand. We’ve been pushed around and a laughing post. We should be known for more than sitting in our parent’s basements, as the stereotype says.
CP: Why did you feel protest was the best way to take a stand?
Hill: We’ve had shootings in the past. I feel we’ve stopped reporting on them as they’ve become commonplace. When my generation decided to stand up and raise our voices, I decided to be a part of it.
Lately, we’ve had balloons in the lunchroom and people have been popping them. When a balloon pops, a lot of us duck for cover. School is the one place we should be safe, because being safe at home isn’t guaranteed. You shouldn’t need to feel like you have to have an escape route planned in your head for every moment of every day.
CP: Were you encouraged to protest by anti-gun groups?
CP: Were you encouraged to protest by any political party or political group?
CP: Did anyone discourage you from walking out?
Hill: I’m in the school play, and I raised the point at rehearsal. There was speculation among students that we might get suspended. The director said that it might take more consideration. I think that was meant to discourage people from walking out, so as to not disrupt the show.
CP: How do you feel about-facing consequences, if there are any, from the school?
Hill: I feel like it’s similar to what happened to Martin Luther King. He got arrested for not having a parade permit, but they really did it to silence his message. I got myself a blue pass and walked out. To the best of my knowledge, I haven’t done anything wrong by the student handbook, but I’ll serve any consequences.
CP: How do you feel about being the only student to walk out?
Hill: I feel like it says something about how much people respect authority, but also a fear factor. No one want’s to be suspended. I’m a little upset, but I can understand why they didn’t walk out.
CP: You’re pictured on the front page of Wednesday’s paper holding a gun during play rehearsal. Why were you holding the gun?
Hill: The gun is part of my character for my play. The show has a lot of violence in it. He’s not like the rest of the Greasers that are portrayed in the show. It’s almost painfully ironic that me, playing the most violent person in the play, was the student to walk out. A couple people have brought the irony to my attention and about how my generation is misunderstood. The show was planned before any of this came to light. It gives us a unique opportunity to bring attention to how quickly things can change in a young person’s life. I take away from the show that it’s really important to look below the surface, because there’s more to a person than their appearance.
CP: What is your opinion on guns and gun control?
Hill: I’ve seen a lot of different points of view. Living in this town, I’m not necessarily for gun control or taking away the Second Amendment. I also feel that it needs to adapt to the society that it is meant to protect. We need idiot control. If we can’t control how people are going to act, if we can’t teach people not to go into a school and kill innocent people, then maybe we need to remove the tools that they use.
CP: The Craig Press story about the walkout created a social media buzz, with many people critical of students like you. What would you like those people to know about the action you took?
Hill: For me, personally, it wasn’t about protesting. Sure, I’m standing up and saying we need to do something. Personally, for me, it was about honoring the fact that 17 people lost their lives, and they are not getting to do what I’m doing. They were taken from the world long before their time. We need to do something and not just keep saying that gun control is the answer. We need to do something to ensure that this world becomes a better place for everyone and those that come after us.
CP: What do you think was accomplished on Wednesday?
Hill: I think our generation taking action is a change that not a lot of people are comfortable with. It wasn’t a complete shutdown. It wasn’t completely brushed under the rug. We had a moment of silence. It wasn’t enough. We recognized the lives that were lost and the fact that they don’t get to live the rest of theirs.
CP: What’s next?
Hill: I’m a member of student council, and I think we want to do something on April 20.
CP: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
Hill: I can understand change makes people uncomfortable. I feel that the people who disapproved, the commenters on Facebook, should realize that everyone had their own reasons for walking out. My reason was honoring those who lost their lives. I’m sure the middle schoolers wanted to stand up and have their voices heard. They might not know everything, but they know enough to stand up and say, “It’s enough.” I think you should give us young ones a chance.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.