Hundreds of Hudson Valley students, teachers and administrators participated in the National School Walkout on Wednesday to call on Congress for tighter gun control laws.
Students joined their peers around the nation at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14 as part of the ENOUGH National School Walkout, which is “to protest Congress’ inaction to do more than tweet thoughts and prayers in response to the gun violence plaguing our schools and neighborhoods.”
Many schools allowed students to walk out of class for 17 minutes with increased security to ensure the actions were organized and safe. Other districts have forbidden participation, citing safety concerns and objections to disrupting class time. Some of the walkouts were broadcast on national television.
“We need action. Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to demand Congress pass legislation to keep us safe from gun violence at our schools, on our streets and in our homes and places of worship,” according to organizers of the national movement.
“Students and staff have the right to teach and learn in an environment free from the worry of being gunned down in their classrooms or on their way home from school. Parents have the right to send their kids to school in the mornings and see them home alive at the end of the day.”
“This walkout is in response to the shooting at a Parkland, Fla. high school on Feb. 14, and countless other shootings over the past few years,” students stated. “Enough is enough! Us students are the future, and our voices must be heard. We can make a difference.”
"We are not safe at school," organizers of the national walkout stated. "We are not safe in our cities and towns. Congress must take meaningful action to keep us safe and pass federal gun reform legislation that addresses the public health crisis of gun violence. We want Congress to pay attention and take note: many of us will vote this November and many others will join in 2020.”
In Rockland County, each of the school districts issued a joint statement noting that “the idea of a voluntary school walkout” is “an opportunity to provide an educational experience for students” and give them “an opportunity to express their opinions.”
"I have never directly been affected by gun violence, but I have been passionate about the topic for a while now. Growing up in the United States, I am grateful that citizens have the opportunity to voice their opinions and enact change. After the Parkland Shooting, I was constantly brainstorming ways to make a difference, in order to keep the people in my country safe from gun violence," Olivia Hodgson, a student at Fox Lane Middle School in Bedford said before the walkout.
"I was angered that our country has been experiencing mass shootings for years, yet our government had done nothing about it. The Parkland students’ leadership inspired me to take action, despite the fact that I am young. I immediately started planning for my school to participate in the National Walkout. I wanted to find a way to be involved in this national movement. When I am older I hope to continue fighting for this cause and many other causes that affect my country."
In a video released on Wednesday morning, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, who represents Rockland and most of Westchester, offered her support for the students who stood up during the walkout.
“I’m so proud of all the students who are walking out of their classrooms today for 17 minutes to send a strong message to Washington: do something! Another life cannot be lost by a gun violence incident. We’ve got to take action. Whether it’s background checks or raising the age, we know what we have to do. Let’s do it now.”
State Sen. David Carlucci, who represents Rockland and parts of Westchester, said, "We should be upset, 17 innocent lives were taken one-month ago in Parkland. What we are seeing is youth taking a stand and calling on lawmakers to pass comprehensive and common sense gun reforms. I support their activism and stronger gun laws in New York state.”
Among the Hudson Valley schools that participated in the walkout include:
- Beacon City School District;
- Blind Brook High School;
- East Ramapo;
- Hopewell Junction;
- John Jay-Cross River
- New Rochelle;
- Mount Kisco;
- New Rochelle;
- Pearl River;
- Putnam Valley;
- South Orangetown;
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