BY: JULIA MCHALE, ALEX HENNIGER, ZACH GOLDBERG, PRASANNA VENUGOPAL AND NATASHA TORRES
On Apr. 20, Shenendehowa High School students are joining the national movement of walking out against gun violence at schools.
This movement was started by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, FL, after a gunman opened fire at school and killed 17 of their peers. The hope is to address the issue of gun violence in our country.
Organizers say the date of Apr. 20 is significant because it is the 19th anniversary of Columbine, the first mass school shooting in America. Between Columbine and Parkland there were 207 school shootings. Since 1999, 150,000 students have had the misfortune of experiencing a school shooting.
According to organizers the Shenendehowa walkout is to send a powerful and effective message advocating for safer schools. These students will be making a firm statement that they want to be safe, not only at their school, but nationwide as well.
Hunter Galpin, senior class president, said he supports the walkout as long as its purpose is for school safety rather than gun control, which he believes is political. Galpin believes that Shenendehowa “should be pro-safety as a school,” and that “there’s a difference between anti-guns and anti-guns in school.”
Nicholas Matthews, a sophomore at Shenendehowa, similarly to Galpin, supports the walkout’s message of school safety. Matthews believes that to prevent school shootings, there “should be more police in school, metal detectors, and more random searches.”
Since Shenendehowa is a large high school in upstate New York, organizers hope that strength in numbers will gain the attention needed to stop the repetition of school shootings.
Organizers are planning the walkout to start at 1 p.m. through the end of the school day.
Instead of just walking out, students at Shen have planned multiple activities to take place on the field, including student speeches and booths from many Capital Region organizations like The New York Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters, and more. In addition there are tables run by students on topics they are most passionate about, such as a “write your representative” table and one that breaks down the Second Amendment.
After the initial walkout, there will be a town hall event in the auditorium with local politicians, teachers, students, and various organizations. There will be a student moderator there filtering questions and making sure things run smoothly.
While the school district is not involved in the walkout, administrators have worked with organizers to ensure the safety of students during the event. The Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department has agreed to watch over the event, according to administrators.
“We want to make sure we support students and whatever they choose to do and make sure it is a safe environment,” said Mr. Ron Agostinoni, Shenendehowa high school principal.
Kayleigh Nadal, a Junior at Shenendehowa, feels more comfortable walking out with the police along with the precautions put in place.