Today, one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, some students at my daughters’ school are participating in a walkout. The kids leading the walkout intend to stand in silence for 17 minutes, one minute for each person who died in the shooting. They will quiet the noise of everyday life and focus just briefly on each person who was brutally murdered at a place that should be safe for everyone.
The students leading the walkout have met with the principal and students participating have permission to leave class at the appointed time. This is not a protest against the school but a show of solidarity with fellow students. The school is providing the choice for children to participate, or not. The school is providing supervision, but not leading this event. This is by the students for the students. I applaud the school for allowing these middle-schoolers to take a stand, to speak up through their silence.
I sincerely hope that the children who make the choice to go understand how important it is that they really do maintain the silence. I have a hard time imagining a group of middle school kids standing without the noise of chatter, texts and Instagram for 5 minutes let alone 17 minutes. It is this gift of silence that to me is so meaningful.
Although this is happening across schools nationally to send legislators a message, there are many reasons to join this walkout. When I talked to my girls about this they weren’t sure if they were going to participate. If they choose to go to support the message, to remember the people who died, to protest violence in school then I support them 100%. I do not support them going simply to get out of class, and I believe if my kids participate they will do so for the right reasons.
I think today I too will choose to take 17 minutes of silence to support the students and remember the fallen. School should be a place where kids feel safe. They do not feel safe anymore and that is tragic. What is worth 17 minutes of silence to you?