-Written by Jordana Pearlman and Katie Leigh
Young people stage memorial for Parkland peers
On March 14, at 10 a.m., Jericho Middle and High School students joined 3,000 other schools nationwide to walk out of classes in response to the lives that were lost a month prior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.
Originally, the memorial was supposed to take place on the track behind the school. However, due to snow from a storm the day before, the location of the walk was changed. Jericho High School Principal Joan Rosenberg explained that the field could not be plowed and so Jericho Assistant Superintendent Barbara Bauer made a last-minute modification to the plan and moved the location to the upper roadway of the campus.
While Jericho students, administrators, faculty, staff and trustees stood outside with heavy winter jackets and gloves on, 17 students read victims’ names and biographies followed by a moment of silence for each.
Jericho’s student organizers planned a memorial rather than a protest in order to peacefully honor the students and staff who lost their lives in Parkland. Many other school walkouts were more political with students displaying posters voicing opinions in support of gun control and gun safety laws.
One of the Parkland victims, teacher Scott Beigel, was Jericho junior Lucy P.’s first cousin. He sacrificed his life in order to protect his students. Lucy commented on how well she thought the walkout went and how respectful it was.
“I wanted to make sure it went well because I wanted to honor the people that died, and I’m very happy with how it turned out. I’m very proud of how the high school and middle school students conducted themselves at the memorial,” she said.
Many other students were very impressed and touched by the memorial.
“I thought it was a great turnout, and I thought that it really showed that the students of Jericho care and respect that people should not have lost their lives in a tragic event like that,” said junior Chloe D.
Senior Mackenzie F. added, “I really liked how it wasn’t political and it was more about honoring the people who were killed.” Senior Evan W. agreed and said, “I thought it was a very powerful event that showed our support to the victims of that tragedy.”
Junior Maddie K. was very moved by the event. “I cried a lot. It was very emotional. I liked how it was more of a memorial than of a political thing,” she said.
The student response was overwhelmingly positive, but some students questioned how the event was organized.
“I thought that it was very nice that the school let everybody walk out, but at the same time I feel like whoever ran it should have opened it up to more people to be involved in it. I personally would have wanted to be more involved in it and I don’t think I really had the option to do that,” sophomore Katie M. said.
Many who participated found the event to be a unifying experience.
“I thought it was really emotional and really unifying amongst all of the students and teachers just to stand up for something that is so controversial,” observed senior Fahtima K.
In addition to many other staff and administrators, President of the Board of Education of Jericho Schools William Ferro attended the walkout.
“I was here because, as the board of education president, I support our kids unconditionally in everything they do. We grieve the loss the same way they grieve the loss, but as young people it is sometimes more difficult. I just wanted to be here to support them,” he said.
For many Americans, the Parkland shooting has become a call for change. Many Jericho students agree.
“I walked out to remember those who lost their lives for no reason and to make a change in the world,” junior Chloe D. said. “I plan to keep informed and make sure my voice as a student in this day and age is heard. I’m excited to attend a March for Our Lives event on March 24.”