Bellport students to participate in school walkout Wednesday
In a message to parents, Bellport High School Principal Tim Hogan last week announced that students would be permitted to take part in walkout protests on Wednesday, March 14.
The student-led protest comes in the aftermath of a tragic Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed 17. Students at high schools across the country plan to walkout of school for 17 minutes to protest gun violence on March 14 in honor of the Parkland victims.
Hogan wrote that March 14 is a “grassroots student initiative” organized by members of the student council, who planned a memorial service on the football field beginning at 10 a.m. “This event will not be political in nature, but rather a memorial and tribute to those who lost their lives,” he wrote in the letter.
High school administrators met with members of the student council to organize the event, which will memorialize the victims of the Parkland shooting with speeches, reading the victims’ names and observing a 17-minute moment of silence. Students will also have an opportunity to write messages and sign a banner to be mailed to the Florida high school.
Students will also be encouraged to carry out 17 “acts of kindness” in memory of the victims.
Hogan said that in preparation for the event, teachers in the social studies department held classroom conversations and discussions surrounding the issue, including national issues like mental health, school safety and gun control. Several discussions on the history of young Americans participating in activism and politics were also held.
Hogan noted that the high school would not participate in walkout events on April 20, which is associated with “a number of negative events,” including the 1999 Columbine shooting, anniversary of Waco, Hitler’s birthday and pot.
A bus trip not affiliated with the school district has also been organized to allow Bellport residents and students to attend the “March for our Lives” protest in Washington D.C. later this month. On March 24, students from across the country are expected to take to the streets; bringing huge crowds to D.C. Sister marches will also be held in New York City, Patchogue, Port Jeff, Stony Brook, Farmingdale, Huntington and Old Westbury. In the aftermath of the most recent school shooting, survivors and organizers of the March noted that “politicians are telling us that now is not the time to talk about guns.” So they set a date: March 24.
In a mission statement posted to their website, organizers write that “school safety is not a political issue,” but “the mission and focus of March For Our Lives is to demand that a comprehensive and effective bill be immediately brought before Congress to address these gun issues.”
A bus will leave from Bellport at the Boys and Girls Club on March 24 at 3:45 a.m. to march in Washington. For more information or to reserve a seat on the bus, contact organizer Thomas Schultz at 631-880-2693 or email BellportBay@optimum.net.
A full story on South Country’s planned walkout will appear in this Thursday’s Long Island Advance.
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