Algonquin students “walk out” for gun violence in schools

Above: Algonquin students organized a 21 minute walkout to protest shootings in American schools and mourn the 21 victims of the most recent shooting. (photo by Cassie Melo)

In the wake of the elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Algonquin students held an organized walk-out this morning.

An announcement from Principal Sean Bevan followed up with an email to parents:

This morning, dozens (maybe even a few hundred) of our students participated in a student-organized walk-out to protest gun violence in American schools. The protest began at 9:40 and lasted 21 minutes, one minute for each of the students and staff that died in the attack on Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. During that time, they read a poem, “No Man is an Island” by John Donne, made short speeches, and read the name of each victim, every 21 seconds.

The student leaders that organized the protest alerted me to the details at the start of the day. I informed teachers so that they were aware and so that teachers who were available could be on hand to provide light supervision. The student leaders’ advance notice also provided me with enough time to ask the Northborough PD to come by to provide support as needed and for administrators to staff the entrances to the parking lots, preventing unscheduled visitors from coming on campus while students were congregating.

I have been a principal for more than a decade, and I sometimes have the privilege of seeing students participate in powerful civic action and engagement, which is what I observed today. The protest was well organized and conducted safely. At the end, the organizers discussed ways they plan to impact change, including by contacting lawmakers to strengthen gun laws to prevent future school shootings.

I wanted to be sure that, as parents and guardians, you were aware of the protest in case you might want to discuss it at home.

It’s a sadly familiar scene. Following a 2018 shooting, ARHS students of classes of ’18-’21 held a walkout to show solidarity with the students of Parkland High School.

This week, the NSBORO administration has again sent messages to parents to reassure about the administration’s efforts to keep schools safe and offering guidance for parents to support children.

For those unfamiliar with the John Donne poem selected by today’s protest organizers, it reads:

No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent,
a part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friend’s
or of thine own were.

Any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind;
and therefore never send to know
for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee.

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