Wellesley High School students today congregated in the school parking lot for 17 minutes to observe a moment of silence and deliver speeches. The student-run event was put together as a way to honor the 17 who died and the many who were injured last month at the Parkland, Florida school shooting and to demand that politicians and others take action against gun violence. Schools throughout the United States participated in similar ways, most yesterday as planned on a national scale, some today due to the nor’easter that cancelled classes for many districts in the northeast.
At 10am, the students filed out of the WHS front doors, some holding signs that said, “Save Lives, Not Gun,” “Fear Has No Place in Schools,” and “We Will Be Heard,” among other sentiments. The peaceful demonstrators walked to the largest area not covered by about a foot of snow — the road that bisects the two halves of the lot — their numbers stretching almost out to Rice St. There were high fives and hugs as they spilled out the doors and just kept coming.
State Representative Alice Peisch was on hand, as were Principal Jamie Chisum and Superintendent David Lussier, in supportive and observing roles. “I’m not sure exactly where they’ll be pulling this all together outside or where the speakers will stand,” Chisum said. “The whole thing has been put together by them. I’m really proud of what they’re doing and the way they’ve been handling it.”
Wellesley police were also at the high school, at the perimeter of the demonstration.
Student leader Olivia Eburne in her remarks called out the National Rifle Association (NRA) saying, “The NRA only serves their own interests and cares nothing for danger they are imposing on students like us. By allowing the NRA lobbyists to set the standard for gun control conversations we are handing power to them…Our government runs the risk of no longer being for the people or by the people when we allow outside groups like the NRA to have such an enormous influence.” (Entire speech in video below)
After the speakers had finished, and the students went back to classes, one young man remained behind, holding a “Save Lives, Not Guns” sign. Gunnar Green didn’t join his peers as they headed back into the nice, warm building. “I felt like 17 minutes wasn’t enough, so I decided to stay out,” he said. “It felt to me that the faculty was too involved and we were actually learning to obey them rather than participate in an authentic protest.” He admitted to being a little cold out there, but his determination to rabble rouse in his own way overrode a little temporary discomfort.
These are Wellesley youth, and they are rising up. Either help them, or get out of their way.