At 11:00 am on May 26, 2022, about 100 students from Buffalo High School quietly rose from their seats in their second block classrooms and made their way outside.
Students gathered by the Rock, a meaningful spot for many BHS students. The Rock is a monument unique to BHS. To memorialize significant events, students get the chance to spray paint the Rock, a boulder that has been part of BHS history since 1984. It has also been the site of multiple walkouts and marches among BHS students. This walkout, like previous events, was organized and publicized by students. Principal Mark Mischke emailed families later in the day, saying that administrators were present to ensure students stayed safe.
As students surrounded the monumental place, Ella Kragerud ‘25 and Mae Knoell ‘24 stepped up onto the rock and addressed the crowd of their peers. They started the gathering with a moment of silence to honor the lives that have been lost to gun violence and to acknowledge all that are affected.
The moment of silence was followed by powerful testimonies from several students. Olivia Telecky ‘24 was one of many to speak.
“We, as students, don’t deserve to live in fear and shouldn’t have to. In order to make things safer, we all need to join together as a community,” said Telecky.
Between suicide, homicide, murder, and accidental firings, there have been 18,056 gun related deaths in the first 5 months of 2022 in the US (gunviolencearchive).
In 2014, there were 12,356 gun related deaths in 12 months (gunviolencearchive). The numbers are only rising. BHS students are pushing for action.
“There needs to be a lot more ability and willingness to want to try something for change because not everything is going to change overnight. I don’t even know if I’ll get to see it in my lifetime, but to get the ball rolling is the most important part,” said Jack Hintz ‘22.
“We can write letters to our congressmen or to local state officials. We could even write [letters] federally. And even though they may not read it, if we crowd up a room full of mail, or clutter their inbox on email, that sends a message enough and then they’ll get annoyed,” said Hintz.
Gun violence lies close to the hearts of many BHS students and Buffalo community members. In February of 2021, Allina Health Clinic suffered a major tragedy. An active shooter walked into the clinic and opened fire, injuring 4 and killing 1. After the tragic event, BHS students wanted to get involved. Andrew Macheel ‘23 took an extra step to make a change.
“Following the tragic shooting at Allina Clinic, Zach [Muellerliele ‘23] and I were upset and saddened and it was scary to see this happen in our own community. Obviously it’s sad whenever something like that happens, but when it happened in our own community, it was almost unreal. So we decided to take action,” said Macheel.
He and Muellerleile planned the March For Change, a march through downtown Buffalo to protest gun violence. They planned the date, made an Instagram page to spread the news, found a location, and found guest speakers from different organizations. Around 100-200 students and community members took part in the event.
The Allina Health Clinic shooting was a turning point for many BHS students. Macheel and other students are working to make a change in their community and the world.
“The walkout didn’t immediately change anything,” said Macheel, “but it was a step in the right direction.”