Student activism reaches New Trier for National Walkout day

Thousands of students expected to walk off campus next Wednesday

Students are to participate in a national walkout to demand gun legislation reform on Wednesday, Mar. 14, exactly one month after the tragedy in Parkland, Florida.

Students will be joining thousands across the country for 17 minutes to honor the lives of the 17 deaths of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. All walkouts are scheduled to take place at 10 A.M.

Senior Joanna Raimo was one of the individuals who began organizing the walkout at New Trier. Raimo created an event page through the Women’s March Group to spread information and gather support from students.

Shortly thereafter, Student Alliance began working with Raimo and other students to organize the day of the protest. Denise Dubravec, principal of the Winnetka campus, along with other members of the school’s administration, have reached out to student organizers as well as Student Alliance to discuss plans for the day. However, the event remains entirely student-led

“All our discussions with students are to assure that we can keep all students safe and maintain the educational environment should a walkout occur. We need to make sure that we have staff prepared to supervise students both inside and outside the buildings,” said Dubravec.

Although there are still logistics to be determined, student organizers have released details about the event. Participating students on both campuses will exit the school at 10AM next Wednesday and gather for 17 minutes. Following a moment of silence to honor the victims, student organizers are working to organize speakers and other activities for the remaining time.

“Students are encouraged to bring signs, chant, and take part in the event. We are also encouraging people to wear orange, a color the gun violence prevention movement has adopted to call attention to the issue,” said Raimo.

As of now, students from the Winnetka campus will gather at the track located east of the building while Northfield students will gather in the center courtyard.

Student Alliance President Jacob Imber encourages students to visit the walkout’s Instagram page, @newtrierwalkout2018, or reach out to any Student Alliance member for more information

While the school will not be directly sponsoring nor organizing the event in any way, administrators have been working with local law enforcement to set up a security plan as it is expected that many students will be exiting the building for the event.

Students will not be penalized for their participation but the bell schedule will remain the same.

“The school has made sure that students who don’t participate in the protest won’t feel isolated or victimized. We also encourage students to protest in whatever way they feel most comfortable. If students want to engage in further protests, that is absolutely their prerogative, they just have to accept the consequences of an unexcused absence,” said Student Alliance President Jacob Imber.

Nearby schools have also been working to organize their own events. Evanston Township High School’s Student Senate has been working closely with the administration to organize their protest and will have an altered bell schedule to accommodate the event.

Evanston’s Student Senate President Emma Stein, a senior, has been contacting various local schools, including New Trier, to organize a “mass call to politicians” in the name of gun control. According to Stein, New Trier organizers have yet to confirm their participation for that event.

The walkout was organized by the Women’s March Empower YOUTH group and hundreds of schools across the country (including Puerto Rico), as well as in Mexico, Cuba, Ireland, Switzerland, and Israel which have already registered with the organization to participate.

The Mar. 14 walkout will precede the March for Our Lives demonstrations which are scheduled to take place on Mar. 24 in Washington D.C. and across the rest of the country.

While March for Our Lives has already garnered the support of many celebrities and received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, the national walkout is smaller in scale and more locally focused with the majority of protests entirely student-led. Both events have received the support of the Parkland student activists and survivors.

Another major walkout is scheduled for Apr. 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School Massacre. Organizers of all the events are encouraging supporters to participate and keep the movement alive.

Raimo emphasized the importance of continuing to show support beyond the 17-minute event.

“This walkout is a good first step, but other actions such as registering to vote and voting, using social media to raise awareness, contacting members of Congress and our state and local representatives, pressuring businesses to cut ties with the NRA, and continuing to keep this on people’s minds are just as important.”