Across the country, including here at Broadneck, students gave voice to the voiceless victims of school shootings.
Broadneck students participated in nationwide school walkouts on Wednesday, March 14th, that attracted attention from students on all sides of gun issues. Since the mass shooting at The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, gun control, gun rights, mental health, and school safety has been a growing concern. And across the country, students participated in these walkouts, to attract the attention of legislators to pass legislation establishing tighter gun control and better school safety.
At 9:50 a.m on Wednesday morning, students left their classrooms and walked to the main lobby and out the front doors. They stood in the parking lot, facing the school for 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost in the Parkland, FL school shooting. Yazan Hasan (Senior), Ruth Stimely (Senior), and Mimi Souada (Sophomore) were some of the students who gave speeches directly in front of the school. Stimely read a poem written by Katie Houd, a highschool student from Boston. “The fighting isn’t to save you, it’s to save the next class, the next hall,” one line from the poem says.
Toward the end of the 17 minutes, Broadneck students read the names of the victims and held up photos. Participants expressed a moment of silence to honor the 17 people, students and teachers, who passed.
Sophomore, Julia Barrow participated in the walkout on Wednesday and she spoke about her political beliefs. “I’m sick and tired of hearing politicians say they are sending their ‘thoughts and prayers,’” she said. “Thoughts and prayers don’t save lives; policy and change do.”
Another Broadneck student commented, “I believe banning guns will not solve the core issues behind these attacks. We need to fix the mental health and background issues first.” While this student isn’t in support of the entire political message the walkouts projected, he did say that he thinks it’s great for people to unite behind a common cause and speak out about it.
Administrators surrounded and supervised the event to ensure student safety.
And now, more than ever, school safety is on the minds of administrators after the recent mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Superintendent, Dr. George Arlotto and our principal, Mr. Jim Todd communicated how they were planning to handle the walkouts, with student safety in mind. Many students were concerned about being punished for walking out. Dr. Arlotto sent a letter to students and their families to address the tragic shooting in Parkland, FL and the upcoming walkouts.
“There has been absolutely no direction from my office to impose specific disciplinary action, such as suspensions, on students who leave school buildings,” the letter said. Despite these statements, many students were still worried about getting in trouble.
Mr. Todd spoke to some students in the Equity Club to clarify his policy and how the student Code of Conduct would be upheld. Liz Stelmach was one student unsure about whether to take part in the event. She said, she was hesitant until she knew she wouldn’t be suspended unless the peace of the school was disrupted.
While this event may seem politically charged, not everyone views it that way. Broadneck senior, Ruth Stimely has played an important role in organizing and advocating for the walkout here at Broadneck. Prior to the walkout, she promoted the event on her Instagram and encouraged her peers to participate with daily reminders. Stimely says that she thinks the walkout is an event everybody can be supportive of. “We don’t want the walkout to be something about guns,” she said. “We want it to be about honoring and respecting the people who tragically lost their lives.”
If you are interesting in learning more about this movement, the March for Our Lives event took place on Saturday, March 24th in Washington D.C and many other cities throughout the country. Check out this article on the nation-wide marches to protest gun violence.
This CNN article discusses the next steps of action students are planning to take to keep the movement going.