National Walkout Hits Home
Nutley High School Students Participate in a National Walkout, Remembering the Lives Lost to Victims of Gun Violence.
On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, schools across the nation participated in a national walkout in order to raise awareness about gun reform, as well as remember the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The walkout was facilitated by EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women’s March. Students of Nutley High School took matters into their own hands, and organized meetings to make fellow classmates aware of what was to take place. “I was intent on organizing and participating in the walkout because it is the start of the national conversation on gun control, and as students, we are refusing to remain silent any longer,” said Nutley High School junior and one of the organizers of the school’s walkout, Zawar Ahmed. “It was imperative that students be the ones to head this effort because we must be the one to set the narrative this time. Rather than allowing the press and our policymakers to repeat the behavior which has lead only to inaction, I, as well as students from the thousands of participating schools, wanted to take control of the message; we demand gun control.”
NHS students were encouraged to participate, and information was given through an Instagram account (@studentsdemandactionnutley), that students were asked to follow if they were interested in participating in the event.
Nutley High School senior, Ellie McCreesh, also helped in facilitating the walkout and making it the successful. “I wanted to be apart of something bigger than NHS; I wanted to help amplify the voices of hundreds,” said Ellie. “Although we’re young, our voices do matter, and we can make a difference.”
While the walkout was not a school event, there were no consequences for participating, and the administration of Nutley High School, as well as the Nutley Police Department, provided safety for participants. Some local-area schools punished students who participated, saying it was taking away from educational time. “I am greatly disheartened and disappointed in the schools who punished students for walking out,” said Zawar. “At a time when our lives as students are at risk and when our policymakers refuse to listen to us, one thing our nation does not need is to further suppress the voices of students.” Students from NHS who wanted to participate were given orange slips with the words “Enough is #Enough” printed on them. Orange represents the national symbol of solidarity, and students participating in the walk out were encouraged to wear orange to show their support.
At 10:00 a.m. Wednesday morning, March 14, Nutley High School students made their way out of the science wing of the school, and walked to Yanticaw Park, directly behind the school. Some students carried homemade posters, expressing their opinion on the situation. Students gathered on the basketball court, where they heard the names of all 17 Parkland victims, as well as a brief biography of each victim. There was a 17-second moment of silence, in honor of each victim, as well as a chant, “We are students, we are change!” Participants also listened to two speeches made by Nutley High School students. The speeches focused on the inaction of Congress, and what we as a community can do to prevent this from happening in our community, or ever again. After about a half hour of commemorating lives lost, students returned back into the school, and went on with their day.
The walkout generated positive feedback, and of the students who participated, many were happy that they did. “I feel like the walkout was definitely a success,” said Ellie. “Everyone was respectful, and I could feel the passion of everyone in attendance.”
As for protest, this was not the end. The “March for Our Lives” walk was held on March 24, to demand safety throughout schools nationwide, and put an end to gun violence, while encouraging action from lawmakers. The main march was held in Washington D.C., but there were many local marches as well, in cities like New York, Newark, NJ, London, and Paris. “We will also be mobilizing with like-minded peers to attend March for Our Lives, which will be taking place in Newark on March 24,” said Zawar, prior to the march.
The youth is at the heart of these powerful movements, and kids giving kids support is where these movements are going to find success. “This is only the beginning, and I plan on staying involved in this movement until we see change,” concluded Ellie.