BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Hundreds of students at Gov. Livingston High School participated in the National School Walkout on Wednesday to honor the victims of the Parkland school shooting in Florida on February 14 and to have their voices heard on gun violence and school safety. Students in all grades gathered behind the school at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes.
Gov. Livingston students Lauren Plattman, Keren Amkraut, Katie Zimmerman, and Maddy Reilly organized the walkout. Amkraut and Plattman spoke at a recent Board of Education meeting to express their desire to participate in the National School Walkout. They asked for the board's support to help facilitate the event and asked that students and teachers who want to participate to be allowed to do so, "no questions asked."
Many students wore “March For Our Lives” t-shirts as well as the color orange, to symbolize gun violence awareness. On their own time, juniors Juliann Lopes and Bailey Gold organized the sale of the walkout t-shirts and donated the proceeds to the GoFundMe to support the Parkland victims' families. Lopes said, “I wanted to be able to raise money in a more efficient way by selling t-shirts that could be worn even after the walkout ended because the movement is not something that needs to stop.”
Student safety was considered during the walkout and teachers and police officers were present as students rallied together.
The 17 names of the victims of the Parkland shooting were read and a moment of silence was dedicated to gun violence victims.
Plattman, the Social Action Vice President of NFTY-GER, (North Federation of Temple Youth Garden Empire Region), being familiar with the topic, believed her knowledge would benefit the students. She said it is important to protest because, “this movement is not going to go away just because it’s been a month, it’s going to continue… there have been shootings before the Parkland tragedy and we need to stop that.”
Other students including Jonathan Nevius also stood behind the megaphone to express the importance of “standing up and making our voices heard.”
As a response to the positive outcome of the protest, Gov. Livingston Principal Robert Nixon said, “Anytime you are able to do something like this in a very positive and respectful manner it brings us closer as a school community… it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our practice and on how our students and staff members are extremely supportive of our local community.”
Editor's Note: Mikayla Sanchez is a junior at Gov. Livingston High School participating in the TAPinto Berkeley Heights internship program. To learn more about participating in the internship program, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.