By HADLEY HUDSON, Vandegrift Voice
Friday marked the 18th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting and local students participated in a nationwide walkout.
Students at the following Leander ISD schools participated in demonstrations on April 20 in memory of the tragedy at Columbine High School: Canyon Ridge, Cedar Park, Four Points, Henry, Leander, Running Brushy and Wiley middle schools and Cedar Park, Leander, Rouse, Vandegrift and Vista Ridge high schools.
“All students were safe. We want to commend our principals, student support staff and teachers for allowing students a respectful opportunity for self-expression,” said Corey Ryan, LISD’s chief communications officer.
Local demonstrations were part of more than 2,000 events nationwide. The main theme of the walkout was to show solidarity and call on lawmakers to “pass legislation to keep (students) safe from gun violence” at schools.
At Vandegrift, junior Kyle Legg coordinated local walkout efforts and discussed plans beforehand with principal Charlie Little. Legg encouraged students to walk out in the afternoon rather than 10 a.m. (the time many other groups across the nation did) because VHS celebrated Valor Day on Friday as well. Legg reminded local students that it was important to “honor the family and the man who gave their name and his life for our campus and to safely fight for what we believe in.”
Legg also encouraged students to remain in the school’s courtyard, saying he preferred “that we demonstrate our presence and our voice on school grounds for our safety.”
This is not the first event that Legg has helped coordinate this year.
Four days after the Parkland, Fla. shooting, Legg was the first Viper who volunteered to aid students in creating a March for Our Lives Austin Facebook page.
The march was held March 24.
“The message we are promoting is of nonpartisan, all-inclusive support for common sense gun reform and to push peers to get out and vote if we want to be represented and have the issues we care about actually be taken care of,” Legg said. “If our representatives, regardless of party, do not make efforts to pass legislation, we encourage voters to replace them with ones that will.”
Legg’s personal drive to get involved with March for Our Lives started from watching a Stoneman Douglas High School student deliver a speech after the shooting.
“My spark was Emma Gonzalez’s speech, televised unbeknownst to her,” Legg said. “Your spark could be the march, or the walkout, or even me. If a peer can do it, why shouldn’t you? Without voicing our beliefs, nothing will change.”
When they began their efforts for a march, they had hoped for a few hundred attendees. They ended up with 20,000.
Legg acted as the march’s representative at the Travis County Democratic Convention. Afterward, he spoke at in front of 15,000 people.
After weeks of preparation, Legg said that he wasn’t scared for the speech. When he was approaching the podium, he heard support from fellow Vandegrift students.
After speaking, Legg was immediately surrounded by march attendees who wanted to start a political conversation with him or have a photo-op.
“I hope that our efforts alongside thousands of students across the nation in the walkout, and among 800 or so sister marches, that our nation will finally listen to us,” Legg said.
Since the Women’s March in 2017, Legg has participated in a few other movements.
“He’s always been interested in politics, he’s always been one to watch the news and engage with the news,” Legg’s mother Nina Legg said. “His dad and I are super supportive and it’s exciting for me to see him become engaged and to feel like he’s empowered and that he has a voice. I wish that more kids felt that way about whatever their political philosophies are, that they do matter. I am proud, truly.”
Lynette Haaland contributed to this report.