Education

Hunterdon Central Students Plan Walk-Out Protest

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RARITAN TWP., NJ – Some Hunterdon Central High School students are requesting a meeting with school administrators on a plan for a gun control-related National School Walkout on March 14.

Seventeen-year old senior Christina Gomez, who is president of the student council, is one of the student leaders involved in planning the event.

“A small group of seniors and myself have felt fear these past weeks following the shooting in Florida,” Christina said. “We walk into school every day knowing that it could've been us or can be us in the future.

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“As students, we watch adults complain and argue about issues but not take any action themselves,” she said. “I have learned that if you want something to get done, you have to do it yourself. We can no longer look to our politicians for the answers because we are the answers,” Christina said.

Gomez and five of her peers have crafted a detailed proposal they hope to present to school administration soon. A meeting they had scheduled last Friday was canceled because of inclement weather.

The proposal, as submitted by Christina, describes the event’s message as, “Completely civil and peaceful; not a protest against Hunterdon Central or its administration; (and) pro-gun reform, pro-change, pro-peace protest.”

The  proposal includes plans for publicity and outlines a specific schedule. It also includes related future events such as a walkout on April 20, the anniversary of the shooting at Columbine.

They are asking participants to inform their teachers of their intention to participate. Participants, who are encouraged to wear orange, will then, per the proposal, meet administrators and security at the flagpole on Stewart Field.

The student group proposing the event, whom Christina describes as “politically active,” also wants students to carry notebook paper-sized signs. The proposal suggests discouraging students from carrying “anti-NRA” and/or “anti-Trump” signs.

Opening statements would be followed by a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The student group would also like to honor the victims with 17 flowers on the field — one for each individual who died.

 “We don't care if you are a Trump supporter or if you support the Second Amendment, if you see the gun violence happening in our country and you don't agree with it then it is time to stand with us and say enough,” said Christina.

“I know that what I'm doing on the 14th will not only impact my peers but generations to come. Ever since the shooting I've wanted to do  something to recognize the lives lost and do a call to action, this was the perfect opportunity for me to do both. I want to be a student leader and I want to join the leaders around the country and lead the first walk out,” she said in an interview.

The #NationalSchoolWalkout initiative is promoted by the Women’s March Youth Empower group. Like the proposed walkout at HCHS, the walkout is to take place March 14 at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes—one for each person who killed on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas campus on Valentine’s Day.

Per their web page, nearby participating schools include Voorhees High School in Hunterdon; Hillsborough High School in Somerset County; Hopewell Valley Central High School and Princeton High School in Mercer County; and New Hope-Solebury High School and Middle School in Bucks County, Pa.

As TAPinto reported previously, an HCHS event appeared on the Women’s March’s event-planning page following the Parkland shooting. It was deleted shortly thereafter. The coordinator of the original event was listed as “Olivia Crimmons.” 

Christina said their proposal to participate in the nationwide walkout is student-driven. “Students are the only ones planning and organizing the Walk Out, staff members have expressed interest in participating but we have led this event.”

Hunterdon Central High School Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Moore and Principal Suzanne Cooley declined to comment on the students’ proposal. School spokesperson Nancy Tucker said in an email they “have nothing further to add” to her previously reported comment.

 

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