EAST HANOVER, N.J.- Today was a day of remembrance and community at Hanover Park High School. At 10 am students all over the nation participated in National Walk Out Day, to protest gun violence. The students and faculty at HP had some other ideas. Every hour a student or staff member took to the loud speaker with an inspirational quote and a call to observe 17 seconds of silence. At 10 am students congregated in the commons around a memorial of 17 candles and the names of the victims from Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida a month ago. For 17 minutes students, staff, administrators and members of the East Hanover Police department stood together in silence.
" I am so excited to see students organize and run such an amazing event to honor those lives lost'" said senior Matthew Cardoso.
The memorial was up through out the day and also included a letter written to Rodney Frelinghuysen, the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 11th congressional district. and by noon on Wednesday nearly 300 signatures had been collected. The candle memorial, signatures and 17 seconds of silence hourly was a collaborative effort from both students and staff who want to make a difference.
"I went to the walk out to honor the 17 students that passed away, not to protest. It was nice to see the school come together for a good cause," said freshman Michael Batte.
Seniors, Casey Reinknecht, Sophia Reynolds, Sarah Davitian-Reiner, Francesca Basile and Aliya Daniels and her sister, freshman, Christina went to assistant principal, Sergio Silva with concerns about the administrators stance on the walk out plans. Silva explained the safety issues and encouraged students to "make this a movement". Plans began immediately, not just for the day, but for days to come. The goal was to be non partisan and spread a good message. "It was so uplifting to hear an administrator is on your side," Reinknecht offered. After the day's events, the group is planning to form a club, organize a t-shirt sale, where proceeds go to the Go Fund Me page set up for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, and more." Students were concerned, but not willing to deal with the issues," Reynolds said, " but we approached administration with an open mind."
All the students sentiment was the same, we have more work to do.
" There were so many people in the commons, I was happily surprised at the effort to organize this" said senior Bobby Lupo.
The 2:00 hour, and final 17 seconds of silence featured a quote from a Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior who spent hours in a closet on that horrible day, " I am done hiding, we are done hiding, America is done hiding."