17 Minutes for the 17 Victims

Students participate in national school walkout

On Wednesday, March 14 at 10 a.m., approximately 250 students walked out of school to show their respect for the 17 people who were shot and killed in a Florida high school last month.

Senior Sara Massei, SCA president, was in charge of organizing the walkout. “I believe it’s important for the youth to start being politically active as soon as possible,” Massei said. “It’s important for us to have a voice.”

This event was part of a nationwide event, organized by the Women’s March youth branch. Some community members were concerned about student safety since the date and time of the march was made public. Principal Meaghan Brill made sure their concerns were addressed.

“Our number one priority for the event was student safety,” Brill said. “We wanted to account for the well-being of the participants and provide a plan that accommodated their wishes while keeping everyone safe. I think the event went well; students were safe and accounted for.”

Students assembled in the commons at 9:50 a.m. then headed out to the football stadium for the ceremony. Seventeen students volunteered to speak. Each speaker commemorated the life of the Florida victims in order to humanize the students and teachers that – until this point- had been just names on a screen.

“The other high schools’ presidents and I came up with the idea of the 17 speeches at our meeting,” Massei said. “We all agreed that we should honor the victims and thought this would be a great way to do that. By having our students speak about them, we’re humanizing them and showing the world that they’re more than just names on screens.”

Junior Madison Slevin was one of the speakers.

“I chose to speak today because I knew that I would regret not speaking up,” Slevin said. “It didn’t matter to me who I spoke of, or whose story I shared, I just knew that it was incredibly important. Sitting next to my 17 peers on the bench, the number of fatalities at Stoneman Douglas became very real.”

Sophomore Emma Gray also spoke at the event.

“I chose to speak because this is an opportunity to remember those who passed away in the Parkland shooting,” Gray said. “This was all for talking about the victims and sharing their stories. Many people may not even recognize those names and that isn’t okay.”

Those who attended the walkout had different reasons for participating.

“I went to show that there is more to this world than our first world issues,” senior Liam Downey said. “We, as people, have to show our support for others in a major time of need.”

“It is time for us as the generation of doers, to turn our strong emotions into brave actions,” sophomore Ryan Granche said.

Students were given the choice to participate in the walkout or remain in their classes. Approximately 900 students decided to stay in class.

Sophomore Seth Tenberg was one of them.

“I didn’t partake in the walkout because on the official website of the Women’s March Youth Empower, the organizer of the walkout, they state that the walkout is to protest gun violence,” Tenberg said. “And another source stated that the walkout was to honor the victims of Parkland and push for stricter weapon bans, background checks, and magazine bans. I do value the lives of the victims; however, I do not believe in the call for more gun control.”

Sophomore Marykate Behan also stayed in class.

“I chose not to partake in the event because I didn’t want to politicize the victim’s deaths,” Behan said.

Another event is being planned for April 20. More information will be released as planning takes place.

“We cannot become complacent–we have to work together to make it known that enough is enough,” Massei said to her peers. “To the students who think they don’t have a voice, I say this: You do. What each and every one of us does now has the power to make a difference. One voice alone cannot make a difference, but when that voice inspires and is joined by masses, it can create waves.”