By Daniela Ceja 42Fifty Staff Writer
On the one month anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Oswego High School, with the help of the Democracy School Team, held a 17 minute-long demonstration in honor of the lives that were lost on Feb. 14.
The demonstration was conducted in order to give students a place and time to mourn and pay their respects for the Florida victims. It was offered as an alternative to the walk-out, which would have required students to skip class.
“It was a good meet-in-the-middle compromise,” says Alison Sanders, a senior who read on behalf of late National Merit Scholar semifinalist, Carmen Schentrup.
Students who decided to sit out into the hallway for the 17 minutes were filed into rows of 17. Over the intercom, the stories of the Stoneman Douglas victims were shared by members of the Democracy School Team and staff members.
After the 17 minutes ended, students returned to their classrooms and were met with additional suggestions that they could incorporate throughout the rest of the day. Suggestions included introducing oneself to 17 different people, complimenting 17 different people, and writing a letter to either the military, Stoneman Douglas victims, or their representatives.
As to why the school decided to hold this demonstration, here’s Principle Wayne on the subject:
“The consensus of the group was that they wanted to focus on a tribute to the victims of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, but also, to an extent, raise awareness of the importance of school safety.”
While it was important for the school to honor the victims, it was also important to stay clear of any political agendas. “Schools, especially public schools,” says Mr. Wayne, “have to be very careful that they aren’t either being perceived as or truly taking a political stance.”
Instead, the Democracy School Team and staff spun the demonstration as an opportunity for the school to come together in this time of mourning.
The school was hoping students would take away, according to Mr. Wayne, “A sense of unity amongst our school community.” He reminds students that, “we are all in this together as far as providing for safe schools. I think that’s hard to argue for either side of the political spectrum.”
In regards to the reaction of the demonstration, opinions were diverse. “I think majority of people were supportive of it, but there was still those people who were kinda just like, ‘eh, that’s not my way of saying something about it’,” explains Niyasha Johnson, senior at OHS.
March 14 appears to be the start of many more student protests and walkouts. Another student protest, focused more on high school students, is organized to happen on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.
Principle Wayne shares that the school district has yet to decide its position on the matter, but will update students as soon as information becomes available.
“Our number one priority is that people are safe,” he assures,“but we also want to be upfront with our students.”