Students participate in walkout to honor Parkland victims


photo by Nora Godiksen

Senior Courtney Ring reads the names of the 17 Stoneman High School shooting victims during the walkout. Ring used CNN as a source of aid during her speech. The protest lasted for 17 minutes which honored for the 17 victims of the shooting.

Ahilyn Aguilar, Editor-in-Chief

On Wednesday, Feb. 21, students participated in a peaceful protest for 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims of Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. The protest was called a walkout, and students were to walk out of their class and meet at the picnic tables outside the cafeteria.

The walkouts initially started with the twitter account National School Walkout, (@schoolwalkoutUS) a page encouraging students and school staff to walk out of the school on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. After social media spread this movement, small walkout protests have been held in schools nationally, all of which are organized by local students.

The school’s protest leader, senior Courtney Ring, first saw the idea of a walk out on an Instagram post, shared it with her friends and put iit on her social media in the hope of bringing people together to honor the victims of the shooting.

At 10 a.m. Ring and between 800 and 1000 students walked out of their fourth period class to the picnic tables by the cafeteria and waited for the protest to start. Ring was hesitant at the start of the walkout since she did not know what to expect from the students or administrations.

“Most of us have never participated in a protest before so we were being quiet and waiting for something to happen because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” Ring said. “I was already planning on standing up and honoring the victims if no one else was willing to say something.”

During the 17 minutes, Ring spoke up and used a CNN article to help her honor the victims and give more information about them. Ring read the names of each victim and gave information like what their family said about each victim. Ring also encouraged students to contact their representatives and do something for change.

“I was terrified. I’m not a very good debater, so I didn’t want to say anything political during the speech; that’s why I decided to use the article,” Ring said. “I knew no one was going to say no to giving people who shouldn’t have passed away their moment of silence.”

Administration was present during the walkout and supported it by allowing students to walk out of their classes without consequence and lead the protest however they wanted as long as it remained peaceful.

After the protest, principal Mary Williams personally acknowledged Ring for her leadership as well as her words and thanked students for holding the protest in a peaceful manner.

“Our students need to be able  to have a voice and I appreciate the kind and reflective way they did this,” Williams said in an email to the school. “Our role is to be able to provide them a safe and organized way to express themselves in the way that they chose.”

Multiple students contacted Ring to recognize her speech after the event and juniors Avery Watson and Valeria Rivera decided to join her in making a change. They will be the ones to plan future walkouts for the school, and collaborate with local schools like Oviedo High School. The students will also meet with the school board to discuss school safety and will be making and selling shirts for future events.

“I didn’t know [Ring] before the Walkout. I direct messaged her because I wanted to make a change and do something about it so we decided to meet and talk about the things we can do,” Rivera said. “[Watson, Ring and Rivera] all know it’s important that we give attention to the issue, that’s why we’re doing all of this, the victims were our age and that could’ve been us.”

The upcoming event organized by Ring, Rivera and Watson is wearing orange every Wednesday, starting Feb. 28 as an awareness to gun violence.

For more information on future events follow @walkouthagerty on Twitter and Instagram.