Walkout Honors Parkland Victims

Ethan Bachand ‘18
EE Co-Managing Editor

Senior, Jenna Zakhour addresses the crowd during the March 14th walkout.

On March 14th, students gathered in the gymnasium to remember the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This was followed by a seventeen minute walkout, as the date marked one month since seventeen people were killed in Parkland, Florida.

During a turbulent time in which people across the country debated laws revolving around gun rights, a group of Trumbull High students came together in hopes of organizing an event to raise awareness in their own school community. In the process, they created an entirely student run program that will surely not be forgotten.

Almost immediately, plans began to formulate. Speaking about how he got started, senior class President Matthew Kuroghlian said “That night, when it started to float around that the women’s march and all these other groups wanted to set something up, everyone here and other kids messaged me separately with their own ideas of having a walkout. I thought that was incredible, that everyone thought the same thing independently and came to me wanting to do something.”

Fellow student and organizer Michael Cerulli added on, stating how the process came together pretty quickly. “We set up meetings with the administration to include the assistant superintendent, the superintendent, and Mr. Guarino, all the house principals. It was a 72 hour time period in which we hammered out this is what we want to do, this is who we want to meet with, and who could help us do it.”

With a few scheduling changes and many modifications to the program, a final plan was set for an hour block of time in which there would be speakers as well as a walkout in the athletic parking lot.

Arguably, the highlight of the event was the speech delivered by Jacob Schelin, a student from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Serving as the main speaker, Jacob delivered a passionate speech about the events of that day as well as the importance of school safety. The result being a silent gym, as every person in attendance listened to his story.

Following the main speaker, students proceed to head outside to observe the seventeen minutes of silence. As they stood outside, each victim’s name was read outloud as well as a personal fact about the individual. And just as it was while Jacob was speaking, the entire student body was silent as they remembered the lives that were lost.

Recalling when he was writing the statements, Cerulli said that “I remember it really hitting home when I was doing the research, looking at a kid who was 15 years old whose life was summed up in 4 seconds on CNN … If you heard one of those statements you could probably fit it to one of your friends.”

Overall, the walkout completely exceeded expectations, as the Trumbull Fire Marshall estimated that over 1900 people were in attendance. This was way over what had been anticipated by the students leading the event, as they were only expecting around 1,000 people to show up.

A key factor in the process in making such an occasion possible was working with administration, all of whom were happy with the outcome. Speaking as students returned into the building, Principal Marc Guarino said, “I thought it was an awesome event, it was all student lead, our entire community should be proud the young people that we have in our halls every day that want to have a safe and healthy learning environment for all of us. I couldn’t be prouder as the principal of Trumbull High School at this moment.”

A-House Principal Jennifer Chirles echoed that sentiment, saying “I was very proud of how respectful our students were and how eloquently ours speakers spoke. I hope that this is the start of something that will make Trumbull High School a better place”.

One of the people in attendance for the event was First Selectman Vicki Tesoro, who voiced her support for what took place. Speaking after the walkout, First Selectman Tesoro said “I am so proud of the students at Trumbull High School, being apart of this movement, speaking out against gun violence. Every student has the right to be safe and secure in school, and that’s not only the students, but the teachers and the staff as well. I’m honored to be here today, to support our students.”

As of now, there are no concrete plans for the next course of action from this coalition of students. Yet we can all look back at this moment as a defining one in school history, where students came together in one place, at one time, in order to use their voices to inspire change.

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