Students at schools in Connecticut and New York are among those participating in a national walkout on Wednesday. It’s seen as a memorial to the students who died in a shooting in Parkland, Fla., last month – and also as a protest against gun violence.
Emily Kesselman, a student at Wilton High School, organized the protest at her school. She says about half the students plan to take part. At 10 a.m., they’ll get up, leave their desks and file outside for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 people who died in the Parkland school shooting. But in some ways, she says the walkout is also a demand for safer schools.
“I feel like it’s unfair that we feel unsafe in our school and really anywhere, and we need more common sense gun legislation. There shouldn’t be this terror of kids walking the hallway thinking they’re going to turn a corner and any second they’ll need to hide in a classroom.”
Kesselman says she thinks this moment is different from previous school shootings, like the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, which took place about 20 miles away.
“So with Sandy Hook you saw the parents speaking out, but with Parkland it’s the students. I registered to vote a couple weeks ago, these people can register to vote. And I think that’s what really gained momentum, is the powerful speaking of high school students.”
Kesselman says her school’s administration has been largely supportive, and that’s not always the case – students at other schools, including in Texas and North Carolina, have been threatened with suspension if they take part in walkouts.