More than 140 Kutztown Area High School students walked out of their classes at 10:13 a.m. on March 14 for the #Enough National School Walkout in honor of the victims of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Students gathered inside the gymnasium where student organizers read the names and eulogies of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. There was a moment of silence, then student organizers asked students to sign a banner reading “We Stand Together,” which will be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a show of unity and support. Students then remained standing in silence until 10:30 a.m., then returned to their classes.
KHS Walkout student organizer and Kutztown senior, Olivia Sica, 17, received support from both high school and district administration for the event. In her initial email informing students of the Walkout, Sica ensured her fellow classmates that the walkout was simply a show of support and unity for the students and families from Parkland.
“Many of the victims were high school students not unlike ourselves. When terrible tragedies strike, it is important to show sympathy and compassion toward the people affected by those tragedies,” said Sica. “In fact, the support of high schoolers like ourselves may be the most valuable to the students in Parkland, Florida.”
Kutztown Superintendent George Fiore supported the students and was proud of the way the student organizers decided to conduct the Walkout.
“The students at Kutztown are quite giving and compassionate to others. We feel that this is an appropriate way for our students to show support and civic activism in a safe manner.”
Sica, along with Walkout organizers and Kutztown seniors Julia Mace, 18, and Kiana Haring, 18, wanted to display how a show of unity, regardless how small, can be powerful.
“Individual students and even individual high schools are small when they stand alone. By joining with so many other schools all across the country, Kutztown can contribute to a powerful, student-driven movement that rejects fear and hate, and embraces compassion.”
Mace believes the Walkout was important as a means of being socially active as well as being socially aware.
“I feel the Walkout is important because it’s crucial in a time like this that we students use our voices and stand in support with the students in Parkland, Florida,” said Mace. “It’s important to use this Walkout as a way to remember the students at the school, and let them know we are here to fight with them and support them, and also remember the friends and teachers they lost.”
“When tragedies like the Parkland shooting strike, it’s important to help the victims of the tragedy in any way you can,” said Sica.
Chris Schumacher, a government teacher at Kutztown, praised the students for handling themselves in a respectful and inspiring manner.
“I’m so proud of our students for the manner in which they approached the Walkout,” said Schumacher. “Student leaders who wanted to express sympathy for those students lost at Stoneman Douglas worked with our administration to provide a safe and organized venue to express themselves. Student organizers were adamant that this event be focused on memorializing victims instead of advocating for a certain political stance.”
Student organizers were moved and extremely appreciative by the large number of students who participated in the Walkout.
“I’m so grateful that everyone wanted to participate. It was amazing to see how many students at our school cared and that we all wanted to band together in support of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” said Mace.
“I’m thrilled at how positive the student response has been. It really just shows how students can come together, even under such terrible circumstances,” said Sica.