By Rachel Schneider
March 14 was a historic day for students nationwide. For 17 minutes, students from all over the country walked out of their classrooms to take a stand and send a message. Some students chose to walk out in solidarity and remembrance for the 17 lives lost in the Stoneman Douglas Florida shooting, while others chose to walk out in protest against our current gun laws.
Around a week before the event, a Facebook group was created to unify South students and inform the group of the details. Students were encouraged to wear either white or orange on the day of the walkout in accordance with the national movement color. Additionally, the administration sent out an email outlining the procedures of the walkout and the ways in which our school would be supporting Stoneman Douglas High School and its students.
Promptly at 9:55 on, approximately 200 South students congregated in the main lobby.Only minutes later, a large group of students began to form right outside of the main entrance, many holding signs with various messages such as “Protect Students Not Guns” and “Guns in school? We say no. NRA has got to go!”
Once the clock struck 10:00, the student government board came onto the school loudspeaker to lead a schoolwide memorial. They read aloud a short bio about each of the victims and followed with a directed moment of silence to honor the 17 lives lost. As classes resumed inside of the building, outside, senior Bonnie Charles took to the front steps to read a speech to the teachers, administrators, students, and police officers who were present. Charles then instructed the walkout participants to march around the school loop with their signs. Many chanted lines such as, “Enough is Enough.”
No participants were penalized for choosing to walkout; however, at many other schools across the country students faced suspension for their participation in the national walkout.
Charles was very motivated to participate in the walkout, “The shooting in Parkland had a profound effect on me. The victims who died that day were just like the students and staff at Great Neck South. I knew right away that I wanted to do something to stop these school shootings and show our support for the survivors at Stoneman Douglas. By participating in the #Enough National Walkout, we are calling out our nation’s lawmakers to let them know that unless they adopt stricter gun legislation, we will vote them out.”
Following the walkout, Dr. Gitz sent an email to students and parents that said, “The respect, decorum, and maturity our students displayed throughout the ‘walkout’ was absolutely inspiring.”