Bixby Students Protest Gun Violence, Low Teacher Pay


Connor Wright

Sophomore Katelyn Adams marches at Bixby High School

Ralph Bernhardt, Reporter

About 140 Bixby High School students gathered at the campus clock tower Wednesday in solidarity with victims of school violence and underpaid teachers .

Chants of “Change! Change!” and “The will of the people will never be defeated!” periodically echoed throughout the crowd.

Students began gathering in the chilly weather at 9:42 a.m. in front of the main entrance to the building. Four Bixby police officers, plus 13 school officials and teachers, helped maintain a safe environment.

Many students wore orange clothing in remembrance of the 17 victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killings on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, exactly one month ago. Others brought signs bearing frustrated comments in regard to the Oklahoma legislature’s lack of action on teacher pay and gun violence.

One sign read, “Stop making our teachers move to Texas!” while another compared the value of an AR-15 rifle to that of a human life.

“I’m out here because I fight for the people – no matter what – and I don’t like watching people die,” said junior Briley Gregory, one of the first to attend.

Initial student numbers to the rally stayed at around a dozen, but grew to about 50 by 9:55 a.m. Many students left class at 10 a.m.; about 70 freshmen walked the quarter-mile from the Ninth Grade Center.

By 10:05, the protest had about 140 students stood in solidarity. Shortly after, students gathered in a large circle and waited for 10:17 a.m. in silence to commemorate the Parkland victims and others targeted by school violence.

The circle of silence stretched across the entire green space. At 10:17, students rose to their feet and conversed about politics, one another’s signs, and the surprising size of the turnout (five times more than student organizers expected).

“We need change. I believe we should start with better gun control, as well as regulations on how much ammunition someone can purchase,” senior Terra Wells said.

Social media posts shared by two Instagram accounts helped to organize students for the event, starting about three weeks ago. Many students feared that those who attended could be suspended or face other disciplinary penalties, but, by the end of the day, no student had been punished beyond a truancy.

Most students returned to their classes in the Brassfield Learning Center, the primary high school campus, or the Ninth Grade Center.

(Spencer Holmes contributed to this report.)