LINDEN, NJ - Hundreds of Linden High School students and staff took part in National Walk Out Day, a nationwide protest conducted on Wednesday. The peaceful protest was created in memory of the 17 lives lost last month during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Across the country, thousands of students conducted peaceful protests, as they called for safer schools and stronger gun control legislation.
The students at Linden High School organized a sit-in and walkout, which included a rally of hundreds marching through the streets and numerous others sitting inside the school silently remembering those killed in Parkland, Fla. and hundreds of other victims of school shootings that came before.
The two displays sent a powerful message, that students they are tired of living in fear of gun violence in school and that they are demanding action.
“It affects us,” said Linden High School junior Hannah Tisdall. “At the end of the day, we’re the ones that could be in danger. We’re the ones affected by this issue. We need to be able to express our opinions and express what we need. And we need change.”
The names of the victims of the Parkland shooting were read over the school loudspeaker, one each minute during the 17-minute sit-in throughout the school. Many students sat in silence outside their classrooms listening to the announcements.
Meanwhile, the students who walked outside gathered at the front of the school under the watchful eyes of teachers, administrators, and the Linden Police Department to make sure they stayed safe. The students then marched in the side streets around the school, as they chanted “Never Again” and “Enough is Enough,” and holding signs calling for better protection from gun violence.
“We’re hoping that protesting might help to open the eyes of those who run the country,” said Linden High School junior Jade Rich. “We need to protect people, not guns.”
After the march, students who marched went back inside the school and joined the sit-in.
Yelena Horre, principal of Linden High School, felt proud of the students and how they handled the demonstration.
“For those students who chose to walk out, you did so in such a respectful way,” Horre told the students after they returned. “The fact that you came in so quietly and joined in [the sit-in], too, to honor the students and the lives that were lost – I’m incredibly proud of you.”
Once the demonstration was complete, students silently returned to their classes, reflecting and contemplating ways to do more.
“This is only the first step,” said Horre. “They want to continue to do more. They are going to be writing letters to lawmakers and talking about what else it is they can do to make sure their voices continue to be heard and it’s not a one-and-done.”
A few highlights from the march and sit-in can be seen in the video below:
(video courtesy of Linden Public Schools)