North students and faculty participated in a walkout Thursday, March 15 at 10 a.m. as part of a growing and student-led national movement protesting gun violence.
The rally occurred one day after other walkouts around the nation due to the snow day on Wednesday. Students dressed in black and exited the building through Tiger Drive for 17 minutes to show solidarity with the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting Feb. 14. Students were largely quiet during the somber demonstration.
“I’m here because I wanted to support the gun control movement,” said sophomore Brianna Spiegel. “It’s scary to think about how so many innocent young adults like us were killed for no good reason.”
Sophomore Timothy Chango-Gassett furthered those sentiments. “I’m walking out to show Parkland that we’re with them and that their efforts to try and create change will not go unsupported,” he said. “I honestly would have walked out regardless of the absence policy in place during the protest.”
Some protesters saw the walkout as a step towards national reform. “I want to be part of the generation that makes a change,” said senior David Rodriguez. “I believe that gun control is crucial to the safety of our school and of students. Students should be our priority right now as Americans.”
As a part of the walkout, organizers also announced a new Students Against Gun Violence club and urged protesters to call their local legislators to demand action.
However, other students said they found the manner of the protest ineffective. Sophomore Noor Shoresh said, “I don’t really know if this kind of protest, especially in an echo chamber like Newton, Massachusetts, is really what we need here right now. It feels like we’re doing it to make ourselves feel good. Massachusetts already has the lowest rate of gun violence and some of the strictest gun laws in the country, which is why we should be leading the national movement rather than protesting a problem that doesn’t really apply to us.”
Sophomore Ella McNally expressed concern about the level of support from the administration. “It didn’t really feel like a walkout style protest because the school played such an instrumental role in facilitating it. The librarians actually forced us to either go to the walkout or leave the library. That said, I think the walkout is a great step towards letting our representatives know what we want,” she said.
“Although in the grand scheme of things this individual walkout won’t mean much,” said Sophomore Henry Isselbacher, “it demonstrates to all of the people who claim that no gun reform is needed, just the scale of the people who think the opposite. It all started with this walkout today.”
Junior William Kritzer added, “It’s important for us as students in this country to show that sense of unity that all American students are in this together.”
After the silence, juniors Maya Lozinsky and Madeline Ranalli, the main organizers of the event, read aloud the names of the victims from the Parkland school shooting and chanted, “enough is enough,” and “the NRA has got to go.”
Some students held signs with messages such as “books, not bullets” and “protect kids, not guns.” Protesters also passed around sticky notes with their motivations to walk out, which organizers collected and made into posters after the event.
Newton superintendent of schools David Fleishman, who joined students in the walkout said, “I thought it was very meaningful and powerful, and I really believe in student-led activism. Hopefully this is not a single event but one that gets students motivated to make a difference in the world wherever they want to, and certainly, this issue of school shootings is one such place.”