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Students step outside for Parkland, school safety

Haley Tomasso

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Wednesday morning, hundreds of WHS students and staff gathered in front of the high school to memorialize and speak about the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (MSD) in Parkland, FL. The students stood in silence and listened to speeches and poems by student-activists.

On the one-month anniversary of the MSD shooting, WHS was one of thousands of schools that participated in the nationwide walkout, organized by the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER group. This assembly focused on school safety and the victims of the MSD shooting.

The WHS administration worked with the student-organizers to allow students to attend the event without penalty if they received parental permission to leave class for 17 minutes during Period 4. Among those students with permission were others who had cut class because they were unable to meet the Monday permission slip deadline.

Each of the student-organizers introduced themselves with the words “I value school safety.” Posters were made and given out by student-activists as students and staff walked into the front of the high school. One poster read, “Protect Us” bolded in all capital letters.

The student-activists emphasized that our voices are our biggest weapons and that we cannot be ignored.

The poem “Collective Nouns for Humans in the Wild” by Kathy Fish was read by senior Nadia Matin. Fish wrote this poem after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting left 58 dead and more than 400 wounded. The last line in the poem reads, “A group of schoolchildren is a target,” indicating the worry the author has for students in their schools on a daily basis.

Senior Kylinn Kraemer said she appreciated all that the student-activists have done. “Personally, I have been looking forward to this day for a while and I feel empowered that our community was able to come together for this moment,” Kraemer said.

Senior Linzy Rosen read “We Will Remember,” an original poem. In her poem Rosen addressed the reality that a school shooting could happen to any of us and that we will not let this event go away without discussion and activism.

After the student-activists had expressed their awareness, senior Katie Clark began to read the names of the 17 victims who were taken during the MSD shooting.

“I thought it was amazing that they read the names of the victims,” said sophomore Ashley Amman. “That number of victims represents a class size and that is terrifying.” Amman explained that reading the names made her realize that our school safety is a major issue that needs to be addressed.

As the assembly concluded and students and faculty began to return to their Period 4 duties, senior Noah Plotkin ran up on stage and stated that assault rifles need to be banned and that what is happening is simply not enough.

Now that this walkout has occurred, activists are shining light on the next nationwide “March for Our Lives” protest taking place on March 24.

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Students step outside for Parkland, school safety