Students at Paul D. Schreiber High School remembered the lives lost during last month’s Parkland, FL, shooting with a somber and powerful walkout ceremony.
While Schreiber participated in the nationwide walkout, the high school had originally arranged a memorial in the Schreiber gym instead. When Schreiber students Eve Harari, Amanda Krantz and Danie DiRuggiero discovered that the school would not be participating in the walkout, they took to social media, sending a message detailing the reasons Schreiber should participate in the walkout in the senior group chat on Facebook.
“I immediately got so many amazing, supportive responses,” said Harari. “I felt so touched by so many people who posted this message all over social media. The message got all around the school and ended up successfully spreading to all of the grades. With help from some of my peers, we tried to emphasize that we wanted to participate in a walkout that memorialized the people that lost their lives in Parkland, while demanding for change. We tried to make it a non-political event so that it would be inclusive. After the Parkland shooting and so many others across our nation, I have felt helpless and frustrated at the lack of change that has taken place to protect our citizens from gun violence. After the shooting in Parkland, I was so devastated. I could not believe that this keeps happening and nothing is being done to change it. It became apparent that I needed to raise my voice and work hard to facilitate change.”
After discussions with the administration and Schreiber principal Dr. Ira Pernick, the memorial was cancelled and the school chose to support the student body’s desire to walk out. Students from both Schreiber High School and Weber Middle School participated in the walkout, assembling in the Schreiber traffic circle as the campus was closed for the ceremony.
“The families in Parkland, FL, don’t want our thoughts and prayers anymore,” said Krantz. “They want policy and change. The national walkout is meant to be run by students to show that we will not stand for gun violence in our schools anymore. We will protest for better policies and get our voices heard.”
At 9:55 a.m. on March 14, an announcement was made over the loud speaker at Paul D. Schreiber High School to have all of the students walk outside in silence around the flagpole of Schreiber. Quotes were read from student survivors and the head Chief Sheriff of Broward County. Students read out the names of the 17 lives that were lost followed by a moment of silence.
“We believed the national walkout was really important to participate in and was more than just a memorial,” said Krantz and Harari. “We decided to take charge and participate in the actual walkout that 3,000 other schools in the country participated in. A memorial would have just sent thoughts and prayers, the opposite of what the people who lost their lives in the Parkland shooting would want. It’s important for us as teenagers to take a stand for what we believe in even if it ends in consequences, which luckily it didn’t because our school supported it.”
After the walkout was conducted, Pernick sent a message to parents stating, “I wanted to share with you all how filled with pride I am after witnessing the remarkable students of Schreiber High School. Hundreds of students walked to the circle silently after our 9:55 a.m. announcement. The students gathered around the circle, leaving space for student leaders to lead this emotionally powerful event. Your children stood side by side in total silence remembering each victim as names were announced. Many tears were shed throughout as students felt connected to each other and their classmates around the country in a way they may have never felt before. It was a beautiful event that underscores just how powerful their voices can be. I hope they share their experiences with you.”
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Mooeny echoed Pernick’s support by stating, “several hundred students participated in a somber and respectful memorial. As always, our students demonstrated their maturity in a most respectful manner. It was important for them to have this opportunity participate in a national movement and they did so with tremendous grace and dignity. I want to thank Schreiber Principal Dr. Ira Pernick and Weber Principal Chris Shields for their thoughtful guidance and communications to parents and students, as well as our district security team and the Port Washington Police Department for keeping our students and staff safe during the ceremony.”
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-Sydney Rosenthal also contributed to this article