Pleasant Valley students hope to start dialogue with walkout

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At Pleasant Valley High School the goal was simple: keep the conversation going about mass shootings. That meant pulling in voices from all sides of the issue.

“For one moment our class talked about it — about the 17 lives that were lost,” said Pleasant Valley High School student and organizer with Never Again QC Vashi Chintalapalli about the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. “Next day we acted like we were back on schedule, back to normal.”

But Chintalapalli didn’t want things to go back to normal, so he helped organize Friday’s walkout. While there were similar events going on around the country, he said the one at Pleasant Valley was different.

“There’s a lot of stigma around what the Never Again movement is and we at Never Again QC are trying to stay away from the national movement in that aspect where we’re welcoming people of all values,” Chintalapalli said.

Instead of focusing on guns, he wants to focus on starting a dialogue. That’s why he invited people on both sides of the gun control issue to speak at the walk out. 

“I want to make sure everyone here is respected, making sure that we all stand as a united front,” Chintalapalli said. “That’s my goal as an organizer.”

Instead of taking sides, the students focused on sharing the facts in hopes people can come together.

“It’s probably the most important part of this whole issue. No one can come up with the right solution on their own,” said Pleasant Valley High School student Maaz Ahmed. “There’s no such thing as one person having all the answers.” 

That’s a message he hopes to see spread around the country.  

“Everybody has different ideas and different ideals and all those different things culminate in this America that we live in,” he said. “This America where we can solve problems, where we can incite change. We can spark different things to happen.”
 

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