On April 20, members of the KO community walked out onto the senior green for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 students killed in a grim shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
A walkout of this manner also happened in other West Hartford schools and was a collective community effort to show support for the families and students affected by the tragedy.High schools all across the country held similar events, all in an effort to bring attention to the various shootings happening in America and support the people whose lives were affected.
The walkout was held on the senior green at 10:15 a.m. for the whole school, so the middle school and the high school came together in silence. For the Upper School this occurred 15 minutes into the students H period class; they were given the choice to go out to the senior green and participate in the walkout, and the same held true for faculty members.
The event consisted of an initial 17 minute long silence, one minute for each student killed in the shooting. After the 17 minutes of silence, four students spoke: sophomores Jacqui Ouellette, Juliana Kulak, Juanita Asapokhai, and Anusha Memon, who organized the walkout. Jacqui, Juliana, and Anusha prepared remarks, and Juanita read a poem the poem “Letter Beginning with Two Lines by Czelaw Milosz” by Matthew Olzmann.
They spoke about the shooting at Parkland, the prevalence of gun violence in America, and how high school students can make a difference in all of it. After they spoke, classes resumed. Many students left their classes to participate in the walkout and show their support for the movement. During the walkout all the students remained silent and showed respect for the Parkland students.
“Overall the amount of respect that was shown at the walkout was beautiful,” said Jacqui. “I was overwhelmed by the support.” Students and faculty members came out and participated.
Although major school events such as the walkout are usually organized by the school or the faculty, in this case, it was completely run and organized by students. “The only part I had in organizing it was them coming to talk to me to approve it,” said Dean of Students William Gilyard.
They were motivated to do this at KO because of the issue of gun violence in America, specifically in high schools. “Gun violence in schools is a very serious issue,” said Juliana, “an issue that affects students directly.”
In the recent past, specifically this year and last year, the prevalence of school shootings and the severity of them in high schools has increased. Kingswood Oxford has even begun to recognize this and is taking different safety precautions to keep students safe. The other factor of their reason to set up the walkout was to honor the students who died in the shooting, and to give KO students a voice in all the tragedy. Students welcomed the walkout with open arms, “Gun violence is a problem in the United States,” said sophomore Ben Zamstein. “The walkout was a great way for our community to come together and support the cause.”