Dozens of students walked out of Greenport High School at 10 on Wednesday morning to honor the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The students — some holding signs reading “our words matter,” “enough is enough,” and “fear has no place in our school” — stood in the cold for 17 minutes, one minute in honor of each victim, following a districtwide moment of silence.
“We’re also standing up for our own school safety,” senior Madison Hilton said. “It’s one of the reasons why we are out here. Not only for our school, but for all other schools in the United States, because every child deserves to get an education and be safe while doing so.”
On the afternoon of Feb. 14, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz entered the Florida high school and killed 17 people, injuring 17 more, in the latest in a string of mass shootings. Survivors of the shooting have been vocal in their desire to see gun control, so that what happened to their classmates and teachers won’t happen to others.
To show support and raise awareness about issues of school safety and the impact of gun violence, high schools across the country participated in the Women’s March Youth Empower Walkout on the one month anniversary of the Florida shooting.
“I believe in what my sign says, you shouldn’t wait for a tragedy to make a change,” said Greenport senior Lena Wolf said, who was holding a sign that said, “Don’t wait for tragedy to make a change.”
“But unfortunately, that’s what ended up happening,” she said. “People don’t act until it’s almost too late. I think now it’s even more apparent that we need to act to prevent other things like this from happening.”
North Fork high schools each handled the national movement differently.
At Southold High School, students remained indoors during their tribute.
“Today’s demonstration in Southold was small in comparison to other schools in the country,” junior Colin McCarthy, 16, said. “We had a count of 26 students who gathered in the main hallway and sat in silence for 17 minutes to honor those lives lost in Parkland, Florida. It was a great success and hopefully April 20th will be even bigger.”
Those interested in taking part in the National School Walkout on April 20 event can contact him through his Instagram account, @walkout_southold.
“I think the students were respectful and were simply trying to make their voices heard in a very civil and appropriate way,” David Gamberg, shared superintendent of the Greenport and Southold schools said.. “They made a statement.”
Top photo caption: Students at Greenport High School participated in the national student walkout on Wednesday. (Credit: Nicole Smith)