Walkout participants go extracurricular

After-school meeting adds to activist toolbox

Posted 3/18/18

Nobody missed class for this one. Dozens of Heritage High School students crammed into the basement of Littleton's Prince of Peace Church, a Church of the Brethren congregation at Windermere Street …

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Walkout participants go extracurricular

After-school meeting adds to activist toolbox

Posted

Nobody missed class for this one.

Dozens of Heritage High School students crammed into the basement of Littleton's Prince of Peace Church, a Church of the Brethren congregation at Windermere Street and Costilla Place, after school on March 14 to take their activism beyond schoolyard walkouts into actionable public policy.

Pastor Gail Erisman-Valeta organized a meeting between walkout participants and adults who could help them further their goals. Former state Sen. Linda Newell, of Littleton, held a crash course in introducing bills to the Legislature. Tom Mauser, father of Columbine massacre victim Daniel Mauser and a longtime gun control advocate, held a roundtable discussion on coalescing goals and demands. Volunteers helped teens register, or pre-register to vote. Jacob Sankara, a volunteer with north Denver's Conflict Center, presented anger-management and conflict-resolution resources.

Erisman-Valeta said supporting the walkout movement dovetailed with her denomination's belief in being peacemakers.

“Gun violence touches every single life, and we believe in the sanctity of life,” Erisman-Valeta said. “A law can't change people's hearts, but we can change hearts and minds.”

Students who attended appreciated the meeting.

“This is really useful, because the growth of this movement is so impressive, and now it's up to us to help guide it toward creating actual change,” said Heritage student Savannah Brown, adding that many of her peers are planning on joining her at the “March for our Lives” protest at the Colorado State Capitol on March 24 — a Saturday.

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