Holliston High School says ENOUGH

by Paul Saulnier
March 23, 2018

March 19, 2018. Holliston High students staged a 17 minute walkout to honor the 17 students and teachers killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

March 19, 2018. Holliston High students staged a 17 minute walkout to honor the 17 students and teachers killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

At the request of Flannery Langton, I met with four of the walkout organizers at Coffee Haven after school (above, left to right, Taylor Doherty, Chloe Londono-Ayr, Sarah Kailani, and Harrison Smith). Additional members of the Walkout organizing committee include Adrianne Chang, Flannery Langton, and Cayla Olson. Support was also provided by several teachers, including Mr. Rooney, Ms. Flatley, and Principal Nicole Bottomley.

School Superintendent Dr. Brad Jackson also demonstrated his support of student voice with the following statement:

“I am so proud of our students and the respectful but assertive way that they have conducted themselves in organizing this walkout. I hope that the lifelong lesson they have learned is that their voice matters; their opinions matter; and that, though it may take longer than they prefer, they can affect change. If we instill these beliefs in today's youth, then there truly is hope for tomorrow.”

The walkout began at 09:50 AM as students were dismissed from their classrooms to begin making their way to one unified exit. Approximately 50% of the student body exited the school through a side door and gathered outside by the rear door of the gym. This was a completely student planned and run event, however, several officers from the Holliston Police Department were on campus during the event to provide safety. The four seniors above along with Chang read the names of the 17 students and teachers killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, giving each name an individual moment of silence. As a conclusion, Smith read the following statement, written by himself and Langton:

“We are all here today because we have all had enough. Today we are walking out of classes, out of our jobs, and out of our daily lives because we believe in our right to be safe in school. Never again should any of us live in fear of being another victim of gun violence.

Today we we also stand in solidarity with those who lost their lives in Parkland on February 14th, 2018, but there are so many more lives that have been lost and so many more that will be lost if we do not act now.

In the short three months since the beginning of 2018, there have been 66 mass shootings in the United States. In the week since we first wrote this speech, the number has risen and required updating several times. 123 people have died, and 222 people have been wounded within these mass shootings. Reading and writing these numbers is nauseating, and we all must do our part to ensure that 2018’s 66th mass shooting is the last one ever.

A few weeks after the Parkland shooting, it was reported by Newsweek, that a sixth grader in Alabama had written his will, "Play Station 4, plus controllers, plus the games that go to it, my cat, my TV, my Xbox, and other stuff that goes to it, hoverboard."  He had left his most precious belongings to his best friend. He later wrote "Dear family. I love you all. You gave me the clothes on my back and you stuck with me all the time. Love Javon." The idea that sixth graders feel the need to write their will and last testament because they fear they might die in school is unacceptable. No child should ever fear for their life, especially in school, a place that should be a sanctuary of learning. We need to act because children have the right to be children, the right to learn, and more importantly, they have the right to live.

Our own lives, the lives of our mothers and our fathers, our siblings, and our friends are all on the line if we do not act now. Parkland could have been us, it could have been anyone. Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough, words on a Facebook page aren’t enough to save our lives. So please, do not let your protest end here. Although many of you may not be able to vote, there is still so much you can do. Write to your elected officials whether it be your town selectmen or your president. Write and demand change. Donate to organizations that lobby for common sense gun laws and march for your life on March 24th in Boston, DC, or in any of the other marches across the nation. Please stand up for your right to live and use your voice!”

Students then returned to class.

In addition to the High School hosting a walkout, the Robert Adams Middle School also held one on this day.

The walkout was intended to drive home the point that there has been ENOUGH ‘thoughts and prayers’ about ending gun violence and that politicians need to take legislative action. The students support expanded background checks for gun ownership, the banning of assault weapons, safe gun storage, stiffer penalties for federal gun law violations, and increased research on gun violence.

When questioned about their opinions on proposals to allow teachers to carry firearms in class, they were unanimously opposed. Doherty said that “a gun would totally change the dynamics of the interrelationship between student and teacher”. She felt that teachers already have authority over students and the presence of gun adds an air of fear to the relationship. Smith is concerned that a teacher could be overpowered and the weapon taken away. When Smith asked teacher and ex-marine Mrs. Rivera whether or not she would carry a gun in school, Rivera was adamantly opposed. Londono-Ayr added “This is not about giving teachers guns, their job is to educate. It is about taking guns out of the wrong hands”.

As the interview concluded, Londono-Ayr asked the others to join her in the “March for Our Lives” to end gun violence that is taking place in cities across the country this weekend, Saturday, March 24. Londono-Ayr, Kailani, and Smith plan to head down to Washington D.C. while Doherty and Langton plan on attending the Boston march. They hope to be accompanied by their peers.

 

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Comments (1)

Bravo to our students. Very proud of them. My biggest hope is there will not be a need for another walkout regarding gun violence in schools. Peace.

- Erica Plunkett | 3/23/18 8:11 AM

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