By Maddie Paterna ’19
In the interest of full disclosure, Maddie Paterna was one of the organizers of the walkout.
A time for change has come, and students are taking action.
On Valentine’s Day, 2018, 17 people were shot and killed by 19-year-old Nikolas Jacob Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school after he entered the building bearing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. At 2:21 PM, a staff member heard a gunshot and called for a lockdown.
In response to this tragic event, on Wednesday, March 17, there was a walkout led by Midwood students. At 10:00 am, students walked out of the building and sat down in the schoolyard across from Midwood.
At first, there was some trouble getting people to sit down as there was no microphone, so students ended up using “the people’s mic,” a tactic used to amplify voices without a microphone, also used during 2011’s Occupy Wall Street protest.
Seventeen students: Ainon Hia Kazol ’18, Ariana Barrantes ’18, Summer Boone ’19, Noran Abo-Donia ’18, Victoria Bayevskiy ’20, Maya Engstrom ’18, Rana Mohomed ’18, Alexis Buckner ’18, Alexandra Pakhomov ’18, Sophia Paone ’18, Jessica Vittoriano ’18, Yona Browne ’19, Ermiyas Harper ’19, Zyhra Castro ’20, Naomi Lee ’19, and Ibrahim Mohammed ’19 volunteered to research a victim of the Parkland high school shooting and write a speech commemorating them.
These students bravely stood up in front of their peers and spoke about each person who was lost.
Each speech was powerful and moving. They included details about each victim’s life, what they loved, and how their friends and family viewed them.
Kazol wrote a speech commemorating Jamie Guttenberg, a 14-year-old who was killed as a result of the horrific Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting.
“Before the walkout, these victims were just names to us,” she said. “It hit me that they’re just like us, with funny and goofy nicknames.”
The speeches were emotional, and there were many tears shed. It was truly a moment of honor and respect to those who were murdered, and it ensured that they did not die in vain.
“It’s so easy to make them into martyrs for this fight and forget they were real people. They had lives and passions, and I don’t want anyone to forget that,” Summer Boone ‘19 said. She wrote about Alyssa Alhadeff, who was 14 years old.
Senior Alexis Buckner had a friend who was close to one of the victims, Nicholas Dworet, a 17-year-old who was a victim of the massacre.
She said she was honored to be able to speak about him in front of so many people.
The speeches took longer than the expected 17 minutes, but it was worth it. Every single person who was killed needed to be remembered, and these students made sure of that.
“They were kids like you and I,” Ermiyas Harper ’19 said. “It’s our job to fight for those who now are not able to.” Harper spoke for Chris Hixon, a 49 year old wrestling coach and Athletic Director who died in the shooting.
This is a small step in a long journey to change, but Midwood contributed greatly, and it’s something to be proud of. It was, indeed, a beautiful day to be a Hornet.
“We’re all part of something so much greater than walking out of Midwood,” said Maya Engstrom ’18, who wrote a speech for 15-year-old Peter Wang. “I know for a fact that this is something kids will be reading about in their textbooks in the future.