Baldwin students plan walkout to protest gun violence in schools

Baldwin students are planning a protest on March 14 inspired by the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

The protest will involve students voluntarily leaving their classes at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes — one minute for each of the people who died in the Parkland shooting. In addition, there will be opportunities for students to receive information about gun control rallies in both Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

The protest is completely student-led, and the school is not involved in organizing it.

Seniors Zoe Vongtau and Taylor Donahue, who are playing a major role in organizing the event, plan to protest gun violence in schools.

“A lot of these times when mass tragedies happen, students feel like they can’t do anything to help because they don’t have the resources,” Vongtau said. “We want to show our support towards the Parkland students and give our classmates the opportunity to as well.”

Vongtau and Donahue, who also are editors at The Purbalite, said they were inspired by the actions of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the shooting.

“On the news, I saw kids who just witnessed a tragedy speaking with legislators and getting things done. The fact that they were already up and at it when there was so much grief and loss really inspired me,” Vongtau said.

Donahue agreed.

“The day after it happened, I thought, ‘This is so much bigger than tragedies that have happened before.’ I realized that students were taking action and I wanted to, too,” Donahue said.

Though the district is not involved in organizing the protest, Principal Dr. Walter Graves said the school wanted to provide an opportunity for students to express their opinions in writing.

The school will be “providing large paper for the students to write messages to the students at Parkland HS, and also provide cards to write messages to local politicians to express their concern,” Graves said via email. “These designated areas will be available during the lunch periods for students to access.”

Vongtau said she liked the poster idea.

“I think the poster will be a way for Baldwin students to directly show love and solidarity to the students affected by the tragedy,” Vongtau said.

Some students said they thought the protest would be a good way to express their opinions.

“I do agree it’s important for young voices to be heard. Our voices are often diluted. It’s important for them to see that we have an opinion,” sophomore Jordyn Dawley said.

However, others said they felt that the protest will not make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

“I think that the protest will get their point across, but a bunch of high school kids walking out of classes won’t make a real difference,” junior Thomas Rechtorik said.

Staff Writers Elizabeth Solenday and Jarrod Chermely contributed to this story.