OPINION: Walkout organizers explain their motivation

Students gathered on softball field for walkout.

Prudence Nowicki

Students gathered on softball field for walkout.

Zoe Vongtau and Taylor Donahue

Since Feb. 14, students around the country have been leading multiple dialogues about school safety and gun legislation. Since that day, as Baldwin students, we have wanted to be a part of that conversation.

The tragedy in Parkland and the subsequent reaction of the survivors inspired us as student organizers to lead today’s walkout at the high school. Ours was one initiative within a network of hundreds of schools nationwide that were doing the same.

Within a month, we organized an event involving students concerned about safety and gun violence who also wanted to show support for the Parkland victims.

A major theme surrounding the walkout was to show solidarity with Stoneman Douglas High School students. Another was to express our thoughts and concerns about gun violence.

From the moments that we gathered in the central lot lobby, seeing students from all grade levels standing together with signs and passion, we were sure that the walkout was set to be mobilizing and monumental.  

About 70 students walked out of class about 10 a.m. to join fellow classmates to express their feelings on gun control. As we walked down to the softball field, we chanted “no more silence, end gun violence” until we finally formed a circle on the field.

In the spirit of recognizing the walkout and #NeverAgain movement as a student-led initiative, we invited students in the circle to voice their sentiments about what the day meant and why they walked out.

We began by speaking about our feelings on the movement as a whole and continued to stand in solidarity with Parkland by naming the 17 lives lost on Feb. 14. Following the preliminary speeches on the movement, we led a moment of silence for the victims in Parkland.

As students who become concerned for their safety when entering school after each mass shooting across the country, we recognize and appreciate the administrators, teachers, and staff members who assisted in ensuring our safety today.

We would like the student body to understand that despite being classified as an act of civil disobedience, we wholeheartedly believe that the event was successful in promoting an important dialogue about safety and student voice.

This is a conversation that we will be continuing through after-school events to debrief and advocate in the coming weeks, as we believe we are the generation to say never again and mean it.