Why RHS Students are Joining the Walkout

By: Mia Lowy, Junior at Ridgewood High School

After the Parkland shooting, a number of students approached Dr. Thomas Gorman (Principal of Ridgewood High School) with the intent of taking action against gun violence. I had spoken to my parents about how I really wanted to be involved with making change, so I was one of the students who spoke to Dr. Gorman. There was a large meeting where we all voiced our opinions and ideas for how victims of gun violence should be honored while still pushing for change. A few days prior, I had gotten in contact with other students, Caroline Loscalzo (freshman) and Claire Harris (sophomore). With Caroline, Claire and Patrick DeMeulder (freshman), we formed a club called Students Demand Action. We spoke to Mr. Michael Yannone about being our faculty advisor, and he agreed.

We had two meetings a week, where we decided on our message for the walkout. While we are passionate about gun violence and creating change, we were still mindful this is an event that would happen during school. We made a conscious effort to steer away from a strict political standpoint, so we could include as many people as possible. At the meetings, we talked about how feeling safe in schools should not be a privilege — it should be a right. We also talked about how although we are anti-gun violence, we are not anti-guns. We want school to be a place where we should be able learn and grow without worrying about whether our safety is at risk. Once we decided on our message, we divided into groups. The groups ranged from communicating via social media, hanging flyers up around school, and working with teachers to get student photographers to cover the walkout. We’ve been incredibly lucky because we’ve had the support of the administration on our side. Without their support, it would not have been possible to make the walkout as successful, organized, or safe.

Students Demand Action acknowledges and respects the students who do not wish to participate.

Tomorrow, we walk. At 10 am, students will gather together on the front lawn of Ridgewood High School. Student speakers will present their speeches about how they have been affected and their demands for school safety. After 17 minutes, there will be a moment of silence for victims of gun violence, this number symbolic of the 17 victims of the Parkland shooting. Although it is strictly a school event, it will be streamed via Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the other Ridgewood schools and the Ridgewood community to watch.

Claire Harris, Caroline Loscalzo, Patrick DeMeulder and Mia Lowy … Founders of Students Demand Action at RHS

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