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Township Students To Take Part in ‘National Walkout Day’

Township students will participate in the “National Walkout” on March 14, in honor of the students and staff killed in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (File photo)


By Arnav Tolat, Franklin High School Correspondent.

In the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., students across the country are planning to walk out of their classrooms in protest of gun violence. Franklin High School students have answered the call to lead, and have worked with administration and the Board of Education to plan a student walkout of their own.

FHS students drafted a proposal, and gained approval from the Board of Education and schools Superintendent John Ravally for the event. They worked with FHS history teacher and student government advisor Robert Freedman and principal Frank Chmiel to organize the logistics of the event at the high school.

We sat down with Anamaria Buchhan, one of the student organizers of the walkout event, to gain more insight into the student team’s motivation and goals.

“While a student under 18-years-old may not yet be able to vote, adolescents have the power to express themselves and show solidarity with all students around the nation,” she said. “We want the event to both honor the victims of the tragedy in Parkland in a respectful manner, and serve as a call to action for politicians to act on the issue of gun control.”

Students and staff will participate in a candle lighting ceremony to honor each of the 17 victims of Parkland. Students or staff members will light a candle for each victim, read a biography describing the victim, and pause for a moment of reflection.

The event will feature three student speakers, Anamaria Buchhan, Morgan Riddick, and Kaelyn Baucum, who will discuss the gun violence in America, the Parkland massacre, and gun control. School counselors and student assistance coordinators will also discuss the importance of mental health and reaching out for help if necessary. The event also features musical and dance performances from students within Franklin High School’s award-winning performing arts programs.

Franklin High School students are supportive of the event. Student Mahir Singh said, “ I personally am in favor our school’s initiative to have a walkout as it encourages students to protest against such acts of terror which our society faces and personally take a stand to the issue. It not only shows our unity as a school community, but provides to the students a sense of reality and allows them to develop a viewpoint and gain experience in becoming involved citizens. I commend principal Chmiel and the administration for being so supportive of the event, unlike many districts across the country.”

An announcement will be made on the loudspeaker for interested FHS students to make their way to the gymnasium for the event at approximately 8:30 a.m. on March 14, exactly one month after February’s tragedy. Students are free to choose whether or not they’d like to participate, and students who do not wish to participate in the event may stay in their classrooms and proceed with their normal daily schedule.

A similar event is planned for Franklin Middle School,  where students will gather at 10 a.m. for an approximate 17-minute remembrance of each of the 17 students and staff members killed.

“These national, student initiated events work to bring attention to the impact violence, especially violence involving weapons, has had in our nation’s schools,” FMS principal Nicholas Solomon wrote in a letter to parents. “We, as a school, are proactively planning a positive day to educate and allow students to exercise their right to peacefully assemble while maintaining a safe environment for students and staff.”

“Our Student Council, PBSIS Committee and Dance Department have collaborated to coordinate a positive event that will afford students the ability to be heard,” he wrote. “The event planned will allow students to organize in a safe manner and come together to support a theme “ We Can, We Will, We Must…Be the Change.”

Solomon said that FMS students will hold a similar event on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School.

 

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