By Ilana Cohen
In the wake of tragedy, Beacon students have been quick to take action. Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, the plans for several demonstrations have spread across social media. A group of Beacon students have been working to organize the student body for the #Enough National School Walkout at 10 am on March 14th, a seventeen minute-long event honoring the 17 lives lost in Parkland.
Beacon students organized at a Town Hall for Gun Reform yesterday afternoon in the cafeteria to solidify plans for Wednesday’s walkout. They plan to meet in the school lobby around 9:55 am, at the end of B Band, on Wednesday morning and proceed out the front entrance at 10 am, where they will be directed by Student Government members to their left or right. Elementary school students from across the street, as well as students from the school on the 2nd floor of Beacon’s building, are expected to join. Outside, NYPD members and assigned teachers will secure the school block, 44th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, as students assemble.
Beacon student organizers will arrange a mini podium in front of the school and take the podium individually to read aloud the names and descriptions of the victims of the Parkland shooting, with each reading being followed by a moment of silence. After the reading, a collective two-minute period of silence will commence, after which a student organizer will take the stage to deliver a mission statement for the walkout and initiate a five-minute period of chanting. Organizers will be dispersed throughout the crowd to help move the chants along. By 10:20 am, students will be returning to Beacon for a regular day of classes, their arms linked.
“The walkout is not only to commemorate the lives that were lost…but to extend that commemoration and dedication into pressuring our lawmakers and seriously considering what we as students can do to make the changes we want to see,” says senior Divine Ndombo. “What’s most powerful is what we as students are able to accomplish after the walkout, too.”
Before Wednesday’s walkout, Beacon students are encouraged to make signs conveying their mission and prepare an outfit of orange and black, the colors of gun violence awareness and mourning. Many students have already taken to social media to share news of the upcoming event, even connecting with students from other schools to coordinate action. The city has supported their passion, with Mayor de Blasio announcing that the decisions of any students to participate in such walkouts will be respected.
“To me, this walkout means building a strong youth movement while also demanding stricter gun laws,” says junior Ella Noveck Holmes.
“We are determined to be the generation to end mass shootings,” adds junior Arielle Geismar.
Students at Beacon’s Town Hall on Gun Reform were sure to emphasize that their push for gun control does not end with the March 14th walkout. Soon after comes the March For Our Lives on Saturday, March 24th, when gun control advocates will descend upon DC and major cities around the country, including NYC, will hold sister marches. Beacon student organizers are currently working to secure transportation to DC for their peers to join the front lines of the march. Additionally, a second national student walkout is being organized for April 20th, the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School Shooting. This is a full day walkout centered around an NYC student rally at Washington Square Park at 11 am. Speakers at the rally will range from student organizers to organizational representatives and public elected officials.
One thing is clear: Beacon students are ready to stand in solidarity with their Parkland peers in saying #Enough and #NeverAgain.