RAHWAY, NJ - The mood was somber but the feelings were strong and the hopes, high. “We are the future,” pronounced Student Council President Tymek Jones. “We must be the change we need to see.”
In solidarity with schools nationwide, over 250 Rahway High School students gathered in their school’s gymnasium at 10 a.m. Wednesday for a ‘Walk In’ to honor the memory of the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and 2 teachers who tragically lost their lives in the Parkland, Florida shooting. As dedicated student volunteers, one by one, held up a placard bearing the name and age of one of the victims, a minute of silence was observed in honor of each.
Following these moments of personal reflection, Junior Imani Griffin stepped forward to announce that, in recognition of the 2,828 students who were victims of gun violence, “Enough is enough.” She went on to advise her classmates to “speak up about what we see wrong” and to “be aware as possible of what’s around you.” She then presented her peers with the charge to “make 17 friends” or to “give 17 hugs” to show that they “remember”.
Rahway High School Principal John Farinella was pleased to provide an arena for his students “to speak up about safety in our schools” and “to demonstrate the compassion that we as a school community have for the families of the victims from Parkland, Florida.” “The horrifying acts that have occurred on school campuses and in other places across America have unified student voices.” Junior Izabell Wilk was proud to join her classmates in this solemn moment of remembrance. “Hearing the names of those students made me realize how important it is not to see young people lose their lives over something that can be changed and prevented.” She continues, “It was so empowering being with my fellow classmates and taking a stand.”
Joe Brown from the Rahway Prevention Coalition, who visited the high school to share in the day’s special event, found the program “very moving” and was “extremely impressed with the level of respect shown by the students.” He was also pleased to learn that “Our students are not apathetic!” It is also Principal Farinella’s wish that “our students will continue to pursue heightened levels of meaningful activism. Their voices do matter. Their numbers do count. And, their efforts are commended.”