By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Region – Students throughout the region joined hundreds of thousands across the world as they participated in the National School Walkout Day March 14 as a way to honor the 17 victims of last month’s shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., as well as to protest gun violence.
At Hudson High School, organized by students, those interested in participating in the walkout left their classes shortly before 10 a.m. and gathered in the school’s gymnasium. Students observed a 17 minute moment of silence, out of respect for the 17 lives lost in Parkland. Select students also delivered remarks and read poetry calling for action on the guns that they say enabled the shooting and others like it.
“I have seen how gun violence has impacted schools and I wanted to prevent something like [what happened in] Parkland from ever happening at HHS,” said senior Elizabeth Cautela, who helped organize the event. “I love Hudson High, and I am passionate about keeping it a safe place for everyone.”
The event marked the one month anniversary of the Parkland shooting. It was also part of a much larger group of demonstrations across the country organized by many of the same organizers behind last year’s Women’s Marches.
“I think we pushed a powerful message, and I believe that people are more motivated to make a change in this country,” Cautela said. “I believe that we are the generation that will make a change, and I think that that want for change was seen in the protest today.”
Two Marlborough sisters who attend the Macomber Center, a K-12 self-directed learning school in Framingham, helped to organize a walkout there. Telynia Grenfell-Lee, 15 and her sister, Leyalyn, 13, did so, Telynia said, as a way to “help the younger children understand what the walkout was about.”
“We gathered outside the school and read the names and brief descriptions of the victims. Then we had a moment of silence together to honor them,” she said. “Then we made a circle, and we discussed fear, violence, and how we can be a supportive community together. We also talked about other ways to help reduce gun violence.”
In Shrewsbury and Marlborough, school officials supported walkouts as well but asked that the media not be present, so as to allow students the opportunity to feel comfortable processing their thoughts.
In a press release after the event, Marlborough officials said student leaders at Marlborough High School, led by Olivia Rainville, junior class vice president, organized an event where students stood outside silently at 10 a.m., for 17 minutes.
After this silent “Linked as One” event, a group of students holding balloons inscribed with the victims’ names simultaneously released the balloon as the victim’s name was called out. Following the outside aspect of this event, students quietly returned to the school and were invited to sign a banner pledging their commitment to make MHS a safer, more welcoming place for everyone.
“I think violence has no place in schools,” stated Rainville, “so I hope this event starts the conversation about gun violence in America. After Sandy Hook happened and we were passive, a part of my heart left me. Being passive isn’t going to get us anywhere. I believe that my fellow students today felt our ‘Linked as One’ event was meaningful and will make a difference.”
Students at Shrewsbury High School also held a modified event and shared their messages of peace and love on a large bulletin board.