19 years after Columbine, teenagers protest for their safety


OHS students walk out on the anniversary of the Colorado shooting

By Laurie Hamame - lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com



Students walk out of Oberlin High School April 20 to protest gun violence, joining others nationwide on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

Students walk out of Oberlin High School April 20 to protest gun violence, joining others nationwide on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Around 150 students convene in Tappan Square to share a moment of silence and hear from speakers.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

OHS senior Lucy Cipinko said her generation is ready to rock the polls and vote for a better future.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

OHS senior Madeline Hennessey was part of the group that helped plan the April 20 event.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

OHS senior Eva Phillips said the walkout was not only about school shootings, but about the 4,271 deaths from gun violence that have occurred in 2018 alone.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Jace Comings, London Dejarnette, Maddy Thompson, Nora Cavanaugh, and James Hignett stand together in a moment of silence.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

“A gun is power for the powerless coward,” Leah Sharpe said. She read a poem that confessed her fears about the accessibility of guns.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Joining the students were a few adult residents with handmade signs.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Students left school at 1 p.m. and did not return to class after the demonstrations ended.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Janet Garrett, a nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in Ohio’s 4th District, said she is proud of the younger generation for its activism.


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Ginger Deppman, Fallon Cook, and Edward Burgos hold up signs that say, “I want to read books, not eulogies” and “I should be worried about my test scores, not my life.”


Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

“We are the generation that will end gun violence,” said Oberlin High School senior Madeline Hennessey, her voice determined.

She was among nearly 150 students who left the school’s grounds Friday afternoon to address gun violence and protest inaction by the U.S. government. The walkout was part of a national movement to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre.

Most of the demonstrators gathered on Tappan Square were not alive when the Littleton, Co., shooting happened nearly two decades ago, senior Lucy Cipinko said. Yet it thrust her generation into a strange and scary reality that its parents and grandparents never had to deal with.

“No child should sit in class and wonder how they would react if an armed threat were to enter,” she said.

Cipinko’s message carried a sense of urgency following the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, where 17 students were killed.

“Most of us were just young children when our parents had to explain to us what a mass shooting was. I am now 17 years old and it feels like nothing has changed,” she said.

Now that her peers are beginning to turn 18, Cipinko said they’re ready to hit the voting booths and change the nation’s political landscape.

Leah Sharpe shared a poem with the crowd, protesting the availability of assault-style weapons: “In the United States, taking a life is as easy as taking a breath… I’m scared. How can an AR-15 be bought by somebody as old as me?” she asked.

Janet Garrett, a Democrat running for the 4th U.S. Congressional District seat, said school walkouts are no different than when teenagers protested the Vietnam War or fought for equal rights. She apologized on behalf of her generation for leaving this problem in the hands of younger people.

“But you know what? I know that you will be the ones to make the difference,” she said. “You are an inspiration to the nation.”

Students protested in a similar fashion March 14, when roughly 40 students walked out of class as part of a movement spurred by the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

Oberlin High School principal William Baylis originally told the News-Tribune that students who participated would face detention or suspension, but his stance changed.

Baylis was made aware of the April 20 walkout and required students who planned to attend to return a signed permission slip or face disciplinary action.

“We wanted to extend the event to everyone at school, even those who maybe couldn’t have supportive parents sign their permisson slip,” Cipinko said. “Overall, the spirit of the school and the administration is in the right place. I think bureaucracy sometimes just gets in the way.”

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

Students walk out of Oberlin High School April 20 to protest gun violence, joining others nationwide on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8193-2.jpgStudents walk out of Oberlin High School April 20 to protest gun violence, joining others nationwide on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Around 150 students convene in Tappan Square to share a moment of silence and hear from speakers.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8201-2.jpgAround 150 students convene in Tappan Square to share a moment of silence and hear from speakers.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

OHS senior Lucy Cipinko said her generation is ready to rock the polls and vote for a better future.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8205-2.jpgOHS senior Lucy Cipinko said her generation is ready to rock the polls and vote for a better future.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

OHS senior Madeline Hennessey was part of the group that helped plan the April 20 event.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8206-1.jpgOHS senior Madeline Hennessey was part of the group that helped plan the April 20 event.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

OHS senior Eva Phillips said the walkout was not only about school shootings, but about the 4,271 deaths from gun violence that have occurred in 2018 alone.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8211.jpgOHS senior Eva Phillips said the walkout was not only about school shootings, but about the 4,271 deaths from gun violence that have occurred in 2018 alone.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Jace Comings, London Dejarnette, Maddy Thompson, Nora Cavanaugh, and James Hignett stand together in a moment of silence.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8212.jpgJace Comings, London Dejarnette, Maddy Thompson, Nora Cavanaugh, and James Hignett stand together in a moment of silence.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

“A gun is power for the powerless coward,” Leah Sharpe said. She read a poem that confessed her fears about the accessibility of guns.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8215.jpg“A gun is power for the powerless coward,” Leah Sharpe said. She read a poem that confessed her fears about the accessibility of guns.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Joining the students were a few adult residents with handmade signs.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8217.jpgJoining the students were a few adult residents with handmade signs.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Students left school at 1 p.m. and did not return to class after the demonstrations ended.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8219.jpgStudents left school at 1 p.m. and did not return to class after the demonstrations ended.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Janet Garrett, a nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in Ohio’s 4th District, said she is proud of the younger generation for its activism.
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8221.jpgJanet Garrett, a nominee for the U.S. House of Representatives in Ohio’s 4th District, said she is proud of the younger generation for its activism.

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

Ginger Deppman, Fallon Cook, and Edward Burgos hold up signs that say, “I want to read books, not eulogies” and “I should be worried about my test scores, not my life.”
https://www.theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2018/04/web1_IMG_8223.jpgGinger Deppman, Fallon Cook, and Edward Burgos hold up signs that say, “I want to read books, not eulogies” and “I should be worried about my test scores, not my life.”

Photos by Laurie Hamame | Oberlin News-Tribune

OHS students walk out on the anniversary of the Colorado shooting

By Laurie Hamame

lhamame@aimmediamidwest.com