The Wellesley High School community is prepping for a walkout on March 14 at 10am from the school to the football field to protest Congress’ inaction on the gun violence bloodying schools and other venues.
The protest is slated to last for 17 minutes in honor of the number of lives lost during the recent Parkland, Fla., ambush. Other schools held walkouts this past Wednesday, and a slew of walkouts are planned across the country this coming Wednesday. The WHS walkout will include a moment of silence as well as speeches. Participants are encouraged to wear orange, to symbolize gun control advocacy.
There’s also a change.org petition put together by WHS student Tara Snapper. Through the petition, she is seeking 500 student signatures to agree with a letter that “will be sent out to parents in order to show your support for the walkout.” The letter says in part, “Various students at Wellesley High have expressed interest in following this national movement in order to not only show their support for students affected by school gun violence, but also to demand change. We believe that students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being put in danger in their classrooms or on their way home from school.”
Wellesley High students did some of their planning for the walkout during sessions at the annual Seminar Day on Wednesday, when students, faculty, staff and other guests are invited to present seminars. Students have also launched a Facebook event page for the Wellesley High School Walkout #Enough, explaining that they’re fed up with an endless stream of T’s & P’s from public officials who have taken little other action on the gun violence issue.
A protest of another sort, perhaps, took place at Wellesley Middle School earlier this week in the form of a spray-painted message (“ARE WE NEXT”) on the front walkway.
Wellesley High Principal’s View
Wellesley High Principal Jamie Chisum issued a note on Friday afternoon to parents and guardians about the students’ walkout as well. “I’m inspired by how thoughtful the students I’ve spoken with are being about a whole set of issues surrounding the walkout and being of respectful of students who don’t wish to walk out,” he told us.
In his memo, Chisum emphasizes that teachers will remain in classrooms to accommodate students who do not take part in the walkout. Attendance will be taken and students who do take part in the walkout will be expected to make up any work they miss out on.
“There may be some of you who feel we should not be allowing this walkout to take place,” Chisum writes. “I want to address why it is we are allowing it to happen. Above I talked about supporting all our students, and we feel strongly that when students are being as thoughtful, passionate, and engaged as the students have been in their desire to stage this walkout, we believe we need to support that earnestness. The walkout also represents a tremendous learning opportunity for them and their conviction to their beliefs is inspiring. The work these students have done to debate their reasons for walking out, to coordinate a program for their moment, the spreading of their message in letters, video, and on social media has been real world experience that is learning we could not recreate in the classroom. It has not been easy by any means and I am sure there will be work to come for them.”
The wider Wellesley community is also rallying around the students. Village Church in Wellesley Square, for example, on Sunday will festoon surrounding trees with thousands of orange ribbons in support of ending gun violence. Other actions are also being discussed with the student organizers.
Volunteers are sought to buy, cut and bring-in ribbons for the Village Church event ( Sign up here>).
Wellesley Police will be on hand at the walkout to ensure safety.