Youth Will Be Heard: Walking Out For Parkland

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Jericho High School students to participate in national protest

Members of the JerEcho staff will be
covering the 10 a.m. walkout that will
be happening at Jericho High School on
Wednesday, March 14. (Photo by Dave Gil de Rubio)

Count in students from the Syosset School District as being part of the upcoming ENOUGH walkouts across the country that are being sponsored by the Women’s March organization and scheduled to occur at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14. Jericho High School will be one among 2,200 walkout sites nationwide and upwards of two dozen other middle schools, high schools and colleges on Long Island that are planning to walk out of class, joining in solidarity with students across the country who are speaking out against gun violence and the House of Representatives, Senate and the White House’s inaction on passing gun control legislation. Once the Jericho students walk out to the high school track, 17 minutes will be spent reading the names of the 17 victims of the shooting, with attendees expected to heed a no-cell phone request. Members of JerEcho, the school paper, led by advisor Suzanne Valenza, will be on the scene covering the walkout. And while it’s a lesson in a macro story being viewed on a micro level, the local reverberations resonate even more, given the fact that a number of these journalism students have direct ties to the tragedy that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. Katie Lee was speaking with a friend of hers as the shooting was happening on Feb. 14.

“The day of the shooting, I got a text from my mom that there was a shooting at a school in Florida and she told me the name of it. I had a friend who goes to the school. I didn’t know how big it was at the time, so I texted her to see if she was OK because I didn’t know that it was still going on,” Lee explained. “She said she was fine and when I asked if she knew anyone that got shot, she said she was hiding in a closet and didn’t know if any of her friends were safe. She’s fine now.”

“She was hiding in the closet and then texting during my class. Talk about social media going live and how things are so different now,” Valenza added. “So we had some connections here at Jericho High School. It was a hard day when we came the next day and had vacation after that.”

Katie Allen unfortunately knew someone who was a victim of this horrific crime.

“My camp counselor was shot in the shooting and passed away,” she said.

Even for those students who may not have had a direct connection to anyone in Parkland, this incident still resonates on a few different levels, not unlike how it has for their peers around the country.

“For me, it hit home because Parkland is kind of like a parallel Jericho. They’re very similar and they thought it was a very safe school,” Lindsay said. “Again, there are people in that community that some of us know. In other school shootings, they’re devastating, but I never had any connections to those particular people.”

For other students, there’s an awareness that has been stirred, whether it’s how much more attention they pay to the evening news or connecting with advocates their age who are publicly speaking out about gun control and what needs to be done. For Christine, a self-described political person, this kind of awareness by people her age is a welcome development.

“I’ve always paid attention to these kinds of things, so I’ve been aware of these national shootings. But with Parkland, it was horrible and absolutely tragic, but I’m glad that I finally see my friends and classmates actually forming opinions and making themselves somewhat political,” she said. “It kind of has a negative connotation to say that you’re a political being, because everyone thinks that you’re too opinionated and because of everything that’s happening in this country right now, it’s better to be a little muted and to dilute your opinions. But I think it’s good that we’re talking about it, even though we’re at an age where none of us can vote.”

What did you think of this article? Share your thoughts with me by email at: dgilderubio@antonmediagroup.com

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