On March 14, 2018, high school and middle school students from across the country walked out of their school classrooms as a sign of unity and protest against school violence. Student voices have been raised since the fatal shootings in Parkland, Florida.
A few of our 8th graders asked how they too can be part of this national day of action. Principal Chris Gavin and 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Anna Hunthausen met with the students and found their reasons to be compelling and inspiring. Below is the letter from students which became the heart and spirit of our planned 17-minute vigil.
“I think it important for our students to be aware of the current events of Tacoma and the world around them. This is one of those moments in our country where we as adults would benefit from listening to our young people. They are asking, even demanding, to be heard, for change, to be safe. It is an important message for us to send to our kids that their concerns, even in complex matters, matter, said Mr. Gavin.”
Mr. Gavin invited parents, faculty, staff, parish leaders and priests to join him and the students on the playground at 10 A.M. The walkout was optional. Students who chose to stay in class were supervised just as were the students who walked out.
A National Call for Ending School Violence 3-14-18
Time Out: A Walkout for Peace
As young teenagers, we remember being kids who got “time-outs” for doing something wrong. Time-outs required us to stop whatever we were doing and to walk to another place to think about what we had done. It was the beginning of us having to learn to reflect on how we should do things differently.
We are also familiar with “time-outs” for sports. A time-out is called when something is not going well or a coach needs to instruct his team and change their plan. All of us sometimes just need a “time-out,” too, to collect ourselves, catch our breath, be alone, pray.
On March 14, young people across the country are calling for a “time-out” of 17 minutes to remember the victims of the school shooting in Florida. Students like us are walking out of the normal school day to think about what happened, to reflect on how things can and need to be different, better, safer. Our schools are too often places of gun violence, and we need to catch our breath, raise our voices, and pray for a change in our country. The walkout is set for 10 am in every time zone across the U.S. and likely in many places around the world.
St. Pat’s Middle School will have a voluntary walkout during which we will gather under the covered play area for a 17-minute prayer vigil. We choose to stay on school grounds as a sign that this is sacred space. We choose to pray for all who have been impacted by school shootings, but especially for the 17 who died in Florida. We choose to walk with our teachers and parents in order for all of us to stop, walk to a new place, and reflect on what could be, what needs to be. We will pray for our leaders to have the courage and wisdom necessary for our universities, high schools, and elementary schools to be safer spaces.
Join us as we walk out for peace. Join us as we find our voices and join them with the voices of kids across our city, our state, our country. School violence needs to end, and it just may start with us.
Briana and Page, Grade 8 students
(guided by Mr. Gavin and Mrs. Hunthausen)