Walkout Wednesday: Local NJ High Schools Participate

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Published March 14, 2018
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The Montclarion
BLOOMFIELD, NJ 03/14/2018 BLOOMFIELD HIGH SCHOOL PARTICIPATES IN NATIONWIDE SCHOOL WALKOUT: BHS Student, Gemma Eshelman holds simple signs that send a big message during the national walkout. Photo by Frankie Perez/ The Montclarion

Schools nationwide participated in the walkout for gun control this morning, following the killing of 17 students in Parkland Fla. Here are some of the protests that student reporters covered locally.

Montclair High School

Montclair, NJ 03/14/2018 Students from Montclair High School in Montclair, NJ hold walkout.- Photo by Nathalie Tilley

A large crowd gathered near the school’s amphitheater. Orange clothing was sprinkled throughout the massive crowd in support of gun control awareness and anti-gun signs were held in the air.

As the line of students approached the amphitheater, parents and bystanders cheered.

Seniors Blythe Bahramipour and Corinna Davis are the two high schoolers who organized Montclair High School’s walkout with the administration’s approval.

“This walkout shows Congress and the rest of the country that our generation is not going to sit back and let this happen,” Davis said. “We are not going to be silent about gun violence. We are going to stand up, and we are going to make change.”

Several of the students made speeches about gun violence and the need to make a change. Toward the end, a moment of silence was held to remember the Parkland students and flowers were placed in front of the high school in remembrance of victims of gun violence.

Bahramipour said they chose to use their 17 minutes of time effectively with speeches rather than trying to have the crowd remain silent for 17 minutes.

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Patrick Garner of Montclair State watches the walkout at Montclair High School with his sign, “Save the Kids! Stop the Guns!”
Christina Urban | The Montclarion

Montclair local Patrick Garner came to watch the walkout with a sign that said “Save our kids!” in the front and “Stop the guns!” in the back.

“It’s very important to make a change,” Garner said. “I think [because the high schoolers] are some of the people most affected, they should definitely [walk out] because maybe people will listen to them. It’s a great national movement, which we’ve never seen before, but hopefully it will keep the steam going. [I] don’t want [the movement] to run out of steam.”

Bloomfield High School

BLOOMFIELD, NJ 03/14/2018 BLOOMFIELD HIGH SCHOOL PARTICIPATES IN NATIONWIDE SCHOOL WALKOUT: BHS students, Emily Paule, and Tyler Gonsalves make their voices heard with signs and a megaphone on the steps of the high school. Photo by Frankie Perez/ The Montclarion

Police cars frosted with ice lined up outside Bloomfield High School and barricaded the street. At 10 a.m., more than 200 students began to pour out of all exits of the school, flooding the main staircase and street.

The crowd was packed with students, and a sanctioned section filled with parents and press held signs reading “#NEVER AGAIN” and “Enough is Enough.”

Four student speakers had their chance to give their message to the student body. Tyler Gonsalves read a list of the victims of the Parkland shooting then followed with a moment of silence. Emily Sawaked read a slam poem, Brianna Hirideo gave a speech and Emily Paule gave a speech as well.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ 03/14/2018 BLOOMFIELD HIGH SCHOOL PARTICIPATES IN NATIONWIDE SCHOOL WALKOUT: BHS Student, Gemma Eshelman holds simple signs that send a big message during the national walkout. Photo by Frankie Perez/ The Montclarion

The crowd stood in solidarity with one another for the 17-minute walkout, listening to the empowering words their peers had to say. At the end of the walkout, the student body raised their signs in silence one last time then entered the school to finish their day.

Manalapan

At the Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District in Monmouth County, officials requested that students remain in their classrooms at 10 a.m. For 17 minutes, instruction stopped and students were given the opportunity to contact local, state and federal government representatives, members of the media or friends within the schools to express their feelings and opinions on matters they deemed important.

Reflective of an age where digital media is the chosen vehicle for communication, the district termed it a “digital walkout.”

Wayne Valley High School

WAYNE, NJ 03/14/2018 WAYNE VALLEY SCHOOL WALKOUT: Students return to class after 17 minute walkout Wednesday morning. -photo by Mary Alex

At Wayne Valley High School, some students remained in their classrooms obeying the order of their parents to not participate while others stood tall engaging with their classmates.

As the sea of students emerged at 10 a.m., some felt like 17 minutes was not enough to express themselves.

“Some people are doing this to get out of their class early, but I think this is a huge deal,” said junior Tyler Riccio. “It took about five minutes or so for everyone to get outside. By the time everyone was out there, it was time to go back. Hopefully we can do something like this again.”

Senior Kristin Cinquino believed that school safety needs to be a priority in the country.

“Being inside and looking at it from a different perspective is very powerful,” Cinquino said. “School safety is something that should be a priority of the government. Everyday our parents send us to school to get an education. Our parents should not be worried to send us here. I think the walkout itself is not going to change anything, but what it is going to do is show the government that we are here. We are a threat.”

Lyndhurst High School

Lyndhurst High School is just one of hundreds of high schools and colleges across the country that participated in the walkout. What separates it from the rest is the students’ extended involvement in the political cause.

Two juniors at Lyndhurst, Victor Castrillon and Jeremy Guevara were eagerly awaiting the walkout. They had heard about it from friends a few weeks prior.

Their friends and classmates, Elena Perez and Ruby Rodriguez, were the young women responsible for making the walkout a possibility for students by reaching out to school administrators and government officials.

The two made websites and Instagram pages to spread the word in addition to handing out red ribbons and putting up flyers around the high school. Today, Perez and Rodriguez gave a speech in memory of the lives lost in Parkland earlier this year, which was heard by students, administrators and onlookers nearby.

“We’re the future, we know what is wrong and right and what is wrong in this country,” Castrillon said.

Castrillon was just one of the many students at Lyndhurst High School who participated in the walkout today. Students speculate that about 60-70 percent of the school’s population walked out in support. While each student walked for a different reason, they were able to come together for a common cause: to reflect.

While onlookers could get a feel for how large the crowd of students was, police presence prevented anyone outside of the school from getting close enough to understand exactly what was going on.

The police presence seemed to make the students feel more comfortable instead of intimidated or repressed.

“The police made me feel safe today,” Guevara said.

In a time of disconnect between safety and the police in America, the dozens of police vehicles and coverage allowed for students to focus on commemorating lost lives instead of worrying about their own safety.

Montclair State University

MONTCLAIR, NJ 03/14/2018 MONTCLAIR STATE STUDENTS AND FACULTY WALKOUT TO PROTEST GUN VIOLENCE: After marching from the Student Center in the middle of Montclair State University’s campus to the School of Communications building, students and faculty gathered around to listen to their peers speak about gun violence. -Photo by Ben Caplan / The Montclarion

For more coverage on the university, click here.

To view social media, check out the #njwalkoutwatch and #scmstudentvoice.

Reporters: Christina Urban, Amina Abdelrahman, Frankie Perez, Bryanna Luciano, Lea Porcelli, Nick Policano, Nicholas Policano, Jorge Fernandez and Rob Ascough.

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