FRAMINGHAM – “Since the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012 I’ve been afraid of going to school,” said Framingham High Senior Julia Long. “In the United States, we are averaging one school shooting a week, and that’s an issue that I, and many others, can’t let stand any longer.”
Long, along with fellow Framingham High students, Catherine Turner and Jared Snow are staging a walkout of Framingham High students on March 14, to coincide with a national walkout by students.
Editor’s Note & UPDATE: Due to the snow day on March 14, the walkout will now be held on March 21.
The trio of Framingham High students are the creators of the Framingham: Never Again movement.
“We have worked in conjunction with the Framingham High administrative team and the class of 2018 student government leaders,” explained Long.
“When the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting began speaking up against gun violence, using the spotlight that this tragedy had cast upon them to fix an issue they had experienced directly, I realized how important it is that we, as students who live in fear of similar violence, stand in solidarity instead of allowing ourselves to become numb to violence,” said Long.
“This walkout is not meant to advocate for gun control legislation, only to be a message that the students of Framingham High School want some kind of change in order to prevent another Sandy Hook, or Columbine, or Parkland tragedy,” said Long.
“We wanted to organize an event that would simultaneously bring community attention to the issue, unify our student body both with each other and with the greater pool of students across the country who are also protesting, and one that would empower students to register to vote so that their voices will be better heard,” said Long.
“I wanted to organize this walkout mainly so the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High knows that students across America stand with them and are thinking about them,” said Turner.
“For me this walkout is about solidarity, and about making students feel like their voices are loud enough to be heard,” said Long.
“I hope that a majority of the students participate because I want not only our students to feel safe in school, but students across America to finally feel safe against gun violence in our schools,” said Turner, also a member of the Class of 2018.
“Though many of the seniors will be able to vote in 2018, high schoolers are often in the uncomfortable position where we are old enough to understand the issues happening in the world around us, issues that happen in schools much like our own, but young enough that our voices – our ideas, our solutions, our fears – are disregarded and we are told to let the government, the adults, handle things. They have been handling them badly, and now more children have died,” said Long.
“We are not trying to send a political message because we feel that a school walkout is not the appropriate way to send that message, but instead we want this message to be one of solidarity and support,” said Turner.
“This event will unify us as a student body and also connect us with the larger movement happening throughout the country. Our voices become part of a collective, and through that our unhappiness with the current system will be heard. On March 14, (NOW March 21)we won’t walk to the field as Democrats or Republicans, as liberals or conservatives; we will walk as students who want to be able to go to school without being afraid that we might never come home again, as students who are angry and who want change and who won’t stand for any more violence ,” said Long.
“This event will be open to the public, however we do want to reiterate that this is not a protest: this is a movement by the students, for the students, to show the world that Framingham High School thinks that enough is enough,” said Long.
Turner said she wanted to thank “all of the students, teachers, administrators, and members of the Framingham community that has expressed their support in any way of the school walkout.”
Long said she an fellow organizers worked with the school administration to make sure that students would not face repercussions, if they walked out.
“Principal (Carolyn) Banach and Vice-Principal (Mark) Albright were very supportive of our desire to walkout,” said Long. “It is with the help of the administrative team that we are going to suspend classes so that no student misses lesson-time, and they are providing spaces within the school for students who don’t wish to participate to stay for the duration,” said Long.
The student-led walkout at 10 a.m. on March 14 (NOW March 21), is an event in solidarity with those affected by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School tragedy, where 17 individuals were killed by a gunman in Florida.
“We want to ensure a safe process that allows as many students as possible to participate, if they so choose. Students will be dismissed by grade level and walk to the front field. An announcement will be made at the appropriate dismissal time for each grade level. Educators will walk to the front field with their students. Students who do not wish to participate in this event will go to the cafeteria. Faculty and staff will be assigned to supervise the café during the 17 minutes,” said Framingham High Principal Banach in an email to parents and students.
The rules were a compromise between the student organizers and the administrative team in order to assure students would be safe and respectful during this demonstration, said Long.
“The systematic dismissal of the students is to make sure that there is order and everyone is safe on their way out. The ban on signs is to prevent a misinterpretation of this event as a protest, which might incite a counter-protest,” added Long.
Besides the walkout, Framingham High “students and staff are invited to create an expression of support for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School community. Tables will be set up during lunch with craft materials to create paper flower or heart bouquets with messages attached, design a personalized card, or sign the banner of support that we will be sending to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School,” said Principal Banack.