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Local students participate in walkouts for victims of school shootings

04/20/2018 11:22 AM |

About two dozen Mattituck High School students stood around the school’s flagpole Thursday morning, 13 of them holding daffodils. 

Each of those 13 students read out the name of a victim of the Columbine shooting, which occurred on this date 19 years ago. They then placed the daffodils at the base of the flagpole before a 13-second moment of silence.

The students were participating in a national movement to honor the victims of the 1999 shooting and raise awareness of gun violence.

“This is America’s history,” junior Cassidy Mullin said of the protest. “This is literally what this country was built upon.”

Some of the roughly two dozen students who participated in Friday’s walkout. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

The demonstration, which lasted 30 minutes, was not approved by the district and each student who participated in the demonstration at the flagpole will receive a 2-hour after school detention, the participants said.

“Many of us wanted to participate in a national movement and not just a local one,” senior Martha Terry said. “It is really important to us, even though it’s not school sanctioned. I think most of us believe in civil disobedience, and being young people, we can’t be complacent in gun violence.”

In an effort to avoid having students skip classes, the school set up a separate walkout movement where students were able to walk laps around the track during their lunch period.

Ninth and 11th graders were allowed to walk six laps at 9:50 a.m., 10th and 12th graders could walk six laps at 10:32 a.m. and seventh and eighth graders could begin their five laps at 11:15 a.m., high school principal Shawn Petretti said. About 10 students participated at the 9:50 time.

This totals 17 laps, one for each victim of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Before the start of each lap, Mr. Petretti read out the name of a victim of the February shooting.

A student places a daffodil at the flagpole. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

Some of the students who participated at the national walkout in remembrance of Columbine also said they were going to walk for the victims of Parkland during their lunch period.

Students and officials said they had heard rumblings of a counter protest in support of gun rights would be taking place at the same time, but that did not happen.

Additionally, social studies classes at the high school taught a lesson in civics Thursday, educating students on the differences between protests and marches, the importance of working with legislatures and the historical significance of past and current events, Mr. Petretti said.

“We have well-informed and active students,” Mr. Petretti said. “That’s one of the things I was most impressed about during the process, was how knowledgeable the students are about some of the issues.”

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