By Javonte Dawson ’18 and Yaneet Rodriguez ’18
Over 150 Pritzker students participated in the National School Walkout on March 14. The walkout was scheduled to start at 10 a.m. and lasted a total of 17 minutes- a minute for each life lost in the Parkland School shooting.
The organizers, all students, had poster boards for students to sign, which they were going to send to the school in Parkland Florida to pay their respects.
Five Pritzker students, seniors Jeremy Hernandez, Mylani Rivera, Diana Tello, and Julia White, and junior Loribeth Godinez, decided that they wanted Pritzker to participate in this national walkout and encourage students who believe that gun laws should be stricter, to join them in their protest, so they began meeting with Principal Carrie Spitz a week ahead of the walk out to make plans.
Hernandez expressed that this wasn’t a walk out but “a memorial for all of the lives we have lost in the the United States to gun violence.”
Rivera stated, in disagreement with Hernandez, that “this was very much a walkout that commemorates not only the lives lost in the Florida shooting but also the lives we’ve lost in our very city and around the world due to gun violence.” She explained, “this walkout was to bring awareness to the gun violence in the U.S. and have those in charge notice that kids are walking out of class to stand up for a bigger issue.”
The names and ages of the 17 people who lost their life in the Parkland shooting were read off to the students by the organizers while other students were signing the posters.
As it’s known, Pritzker is a disciplined school and has very strict rules about any student walking out of class–at least 4 demerits, according to the student handbook. However, the Noble Network allowed for a one-time exception in enforcing the normal consequence because this is the first ever nationwide, fully student-led walkout of its kind. Students and principals across the network could work together to coordinate alternate reflection and accountability for missing class for this one case only.
The hallways were silent, if any student was caught talking, they were issued two demerits. This consequence was made by the organizers themselves in order to minimize disruptions. They also came up with the idea to have students write their teachers a 2-3 paragraph explanation of why they walked out. Hernandez stated, “It was the right thing to do since the administration let us do this without any major consequences.” Hernandez also expressed that if a person was passionate about this, the paragraphs shouldn’t be a problem.
At 10 a.m., a bell signaled when students were allowed to walk out, and another bell at 10:22 a.m. was when students should have been back in class. They were asked by the organizers to remain in silence for the full 17 minutes outside to pay their respects to the families. Hernandez added that they didn’t expect it to be completely silent, but the students were passionate about this movement, and there wasn’t a lot of talking.
March 14 marks exactly a month since Nikolas Cruz walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and killed 17 innocent people. This raised a lot of debates on the topic of gun laws and how strict they are. This controversial topic led young people to organize a walkout called, Enough National Walkout. “The walkout is organized by young people working with Women’s March Youth Empower,” according to the ABCNews.
Senior Enrique Delgado also stood at the top of the staircase with the organizers at the walkout because he strongly supported the student body. “What made me participate in the walkout is my support for the Pritzker students. I wanted to get behind the students who chose to have their voices heard because it’s a hard thing to do so.” Delgado also expressed that paying tribute to the Parkland shooting was the right thing to do.
After the huge turnout, the organizers of the walkout from Pritzker were proud of what they had accomplished and were surprised about how many students actually participated. Hernandez stated that they were expecting 20-30 students to participate, but over 150 students were present during the walk out.