West Aurora students vow 'Never Again,' honor Parkland victims

AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- "Never again," vowed the students of West Aurora High School as they walked out of class in solidarity with the teens of Parkland, Florida, Wednesday morning.
Administrators say roughly 2,000 teens made their way onto the school's football field, spelling out the phrase "Never Again" by standing in formation.

"It hit really hard because that just shows that it could happen to anybody. It could happen anywhere," said junior Ella Peters-Gonzalez of the Stoneman Douglas shooting, who helped organize the event. She knew one of the shooting victims from dance competitions and vows to keep speaking up until leaders hear her generation's voices.
"We're the future of our nation and if we don't stand up for what we believe in, then who else is going to do it for us," asked senior Regan Jones.
Some want tighter gun control; but others, like senior Dylan Symons, disagree with the walkout's message.
Symons called it "kind of an excuse to get rid of guns in general."
He sees arming teachers as a better option and pointed out that law enforcement repeatedly missed signs the alleged Parkland shooter was dangerous.

With students on both sides of this sensitive debate, school principal Charles Hiscock wanted to provide everyone an outlet to speak up.
"We felt like we needed to teach them that being civically responsible and active in their communities is important, so we wanted to give them an opportunity to do that," he explained of the decision to allow the walkout without punishment.
During the last walkout, West Aurora students were penalized if they chose to leave class but today the administration made clear anyone who wanted to join the event was free to do so.
"We didn't want to be super punitive but at the same time we don't want kids to just think that any time they disagree with something they just can get up and walk out of class," said Hiscock of the earlier administration stance.
But with time to plan for today's events, staff compromised with students to allow the walkout.

The school also organized a mock election and brought in the Kane County clerk, encouraging students to vote their mind.
"I feel like I too have a say in this, so I wanted to put down what I think, what should be done," added Symon.
"If you have an opinion, be informed. And then how do you get your opinion out there and how do you change things based on what you think is right or wrong," said Hiscock of the approach he wants his students to take.
As the national gun debate rages on, West Aurora High School hopes to bridge the gap by democracy's guiding light.
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