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Remembering the 17

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Students attend the walkout on March 24 by gathering in the stadium to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Students attend the walkout on March 24 by gathering in the stadium to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Photo taken by Ms. Lori Pristera

Photo taken by Ms. Lori Pristera

Students attend the walkout on March 24 by gathering in the stadium to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting.

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In response to the 17 students and staff killed by an armed 19-year-old at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. students walked out of class at exactly 10:00 a.m. on March 14 around the United States. Cam High’s Associated Student Body (ASB) joined this national movement, giving students the choice of gathering in the stadium to honor the 17 students and staff whose lives were taken.

Ms. Lori Pristera, ASB adviser, says that around 500 students attended the walkout and ASB was happy with the respectful manner students upheld. “I thought that there would be more students in attendance, but it was emotional and it was powerful, in reading the kids biographies, because it could have been us. It could have been one of us and it could have been our school. I think it’s really important for all of us to recognize that and we should be remembering and never forgetting,” said Pristera.

ASB President Mallorie Mehrali prepared a speech that included the biographies of the Parkland victims. “We thought that it was more important to be respectful of the victims of the Parkland shooting because we are a high school and most of those people who passed away were our age so I thought it was more important to recognize them and give respect,” said Mehrali.

As Mehrali’s speech ended, 17 seconds of silence fell over the stadium. Each second in respect and acknowledgment of the student and staff deaths. Students were asked to maintain five seconds additional seconds of silence to honor all victims of gun violence.

“As an educator, I’m glad to see my students taking part in the civil process. I know that a lot of my students were genuinely saddened by the murders in Parkland and are afraid that something like that could happen here,” said Ms. Patricia Valenteen, history teacher, who reported that 25 students from all her classes attended the walkout.

Students at the walkout participated for a variety of reasons, ranging from political to remembering the tragedies of school shootings. “I wanted to support the movement and show all the students in Florida and around the United States, that I support them and I want to be involved in the change so I am not one of the people ignoring it,” said Jewels Thao, sophomore.

“I feel like I wanted to be involved in what was happening in the world and I didn’t want to be apathetic towards the problems students are facing around the country. It wasn’t going to hurt me to go out there, so there was really no reason for me not to,” said Emma Griffis, junior.

ASB refrained from mentioning anything political to avoid controversy and respect individual opinions. “I was expecting more of a protest. However, it was more about honoring the victims and being respectful, but it was nice,” said Sarah Foote, junior, an advocate for gun reform who spearheaded a class-walkout late last month to protest gun violence.

However, other students were opposed to attend the walkout because it was planned by the school. “I didn’t go to the school walkout because I felt like my beliefs in gun control and opinions about what happened in the Florida shooting were not going to be accurately expressed in the organized walkout and my fury wouldn’t be quenched by something the school planned,” said Riley Doane, sophomore, who participated in the previous walkout on Feb. 21.

17 empty desks, with shortened biographies and pictures, were set out on the stage in the quad later that day. Students were given the option to write comment cards to state representatives and later in the month a quilt, with messages from Cam High’s students, will be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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Remembering the 17