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Local Students Participate in #NationalWalkOutDay

Araceli Gomez-Aldana

Local students participated in Wednesday’s national school walkouts in remembrance of last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida. 

High schools participated in various ways and many area school systems worked with students to create safe alternative to the national school walkouts.

At Fort Wayne Community School’s New Tech Academy, students and administrators worked together to plan the days events. Some students wore orange, in remembrance of all people who have died due to gun violence. Others wore burgundy, the school colors of Marjory Stoneman High School. Students also created a “What’s your 17?” pledge, inviting each other to write a pledge of action.

Credit Araceli Gomez-Aldana
A freshman at New Tech Academy participates in the “What’s your 17?”pledge.

Some students did walk out, standing outside for 17 minutes. They were accompanied by teachers and administrators said they would not be penalized. 

Director of New Tech Academy Emily Oberman, says as leaders of the school they want students to have a voice but they need to create a safe environment.

“We are also encouraging kids if they choose to be political activists if they choose to get politically active for whatever side they sit on we want to encourage them to do that too. Our job as a school is not to tell them what to believe. It’s just to tell them to get out there, understand and be active,” said Oberman. 

Emma Cannon is a sophomore at New Tech Academy and she was one of the organizers of the “What’s your 17?” pledge. 

“I think it’s really nice that our teachers and our administrators are letting us voice our opinions. There are very supportive in whatever we do even if it doesn't exactly follow their opinion they just want us to make our own opinions,” said Cannon.

At Homestead High School, student organizers also worked with the administration and opted for indoor activities. Some students did walkout at Homestead and are subject to the school’s disciplinary actions. Students interested in participating without walking out were encouraged to wear orange.

They also launched a letter writing campaign directed at Indiana congressional representatives asking for improved school safety.

Ruthie Puckett is a senior at Homestead. She in a part of the new bipartisan group called Student Voices United. Their mission is to get students involved to spark change for school safety. She says the group was created after student leaders gathered for a meeting.

“A group of us stayed after and we were discussing different topics. We come from a variety of backgrounds and political beliefs. We couldn't agree on what we wanted to get done but we agreed that something needs to be done,” said Puckett.

The group is made up of members from the Young Americans for Freedoms Club and Young Progressive Club among others. Puckett says Student Voices United wants to create a platform for each student to tell their congressmen what they want to be done with regards to school safety.

Students at Canterbury School gathered in the auditorium for a remembrance. Faculty members stressed the importance of connecting with others and being kind to one another.

Following the opening remarks, students read the names and biographies of each student or adult who was killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Each name and bio was followed by a period of silence. The high school director concluded with a moment of silence as he paid tribute to many other victims in school shootings.

At Northside High School, students participated in awareness activities during lunch and some students wore orange to bring attention to gun reform.

Credit Araceli Gomez-Aldana
New Tech Academy students walkout of school on National Walkout Day and stand in silence for 17 minutes.

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