WESTFIELD, NJ — Speaking on behalf of Westfield High School students who organized a “17 Minutes of Solidarity” walk out at their school last week, student Katie Clark spoke at Monday night’s Westfield Board of Education Meeting.
The district-sanctioned school walk out honored the 17 victims of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Feburary. Students who had permission from their parents were permitted to leave their classrooms for 17 minutes of remembrance, a minute for each victim in the Parkland shooting, according to the district.
“On March 14, an overwhelming majority of Westfield High School students joined together on the front lawn of our school for 17 minutes of solidarity,” Clark said. “There were eleven hundred of us. We spoke, we listened and, most importantly, we organized.
“In a country where some school districts essentially banned demonstrators or burdened students with penalties who did, our school supported us and stood with us,” Clark continued. “This meant so much to all of us at Westfield High School. The work that was put into making that day happen is what we students needed to heal, to feel heard, to take action.”
They live in a community not much different than Parkland, Clark told the board of education.
“This scares us, but in the weeks since February 14, it also gives us hope, because we know that there are millions of kids like us all over the country who have had enough,” she said. “In Westfield, we’re fortunate to have support from the adults around us. We want to thank you — the board of education —Westfield High School administration, teachers, staff, alumni, the Westfield Police Department, our families and our classmates.”
To Superintendent Dr. Margaret Dolan, she said, “You supported our principal, Dr. Nelson, and we thank you especially for that. He listened to us, met with us and did everything he could to help us be successful in this effort. We are grateful for the leaders and role models that we have in this community. Thank you again for working to be part of the solution.”
She concluded, “We are an inspired class of Westfield High School students and we’ve only just begun.”
Westfield High School student Dexter Cypress presented the board of education with a framed photo from the walk out.
“We’re inspired by you, so thank your showing us your leadership,” Board President Gretchan Ohlig said. “We’ll hang it up in our board room.”