Doing it their way

Youngsville High School students choose alternative to national walkout

Students at Youngsville High School held a vigil for students killed in Parkland, Fl., one month ago on Wednesday.

Students at Youngsville High School chose to sit in rather than walk out Wednesday.

Across the nation, individual demonstrations by groups of students in different schools were held to honor the students killed in Parkland, Fl., last month and to protest what they see as a lack of meaningful change to gun legislation that has followed.

Details of individual events was left up to organizers on a case-by-case basis, but the organization spurring the demonstrations, Empower, the youth arm of the Women’s March movement, advocated for students to take 17 minutes out of class time starting at 10 a.m. to recognize the loss of life in Parkland in any way they saw fit.

Schools around the district saw students do just that. Some chose to focus on doing 17 good deeds — one for each student killed in Parkland, while others participated in gatherings at courtyards or other communal spaces within their campuses.

At Youngsville High School, said Assistant Principal Glenn Smith, nearly 50 students gathered in the gymnasium, at an alternative to walkout assembly organized by YHS Student Council.

“Over the past week,” said Smith, “YHS Student Council, led by President Greta Stoner, have worked diligently to plan and organize a meaningful assembly designed to help students understand what happened at Parkland, remember those that were lost, and learn from this catastrophe.”

After a brief introduction by Stoner, Smith said, she and Katie Eyler “began to read the names and brief backgrounds of one of the victims every minute, for 17 minutes. A candle was lit after each of the readings in memory of the lost. During that time, the gymnasium was serene, as those in attendance reflected deeply on the events of one month earlier.”

After the vigil, Smith said, Stoner “shared powerful words about the value of human life and the need for all of us to better understand one another. The audience hung on her every word and some were emotional. Her parting thoughts for students were, ‘this should never happen. What happened to these students should never happen again.'”

Stoner “encouraged all students to take time to meet and build relationships with all students,” Smith said, “especially those they know very little about.”

Stoner called the act a “walk up instead of a walk out,” said Smith. “Simply walk up and introduce yourself and get to know one another.”

“Today’s assembly was an excellent example of the strength our students have when they choose to work together to understand and combat contemporary social issues. I couldn’t be prouder of these students and their leadership and social awareness,” said Smith.