Last week’s nor’easter may have delayed the Walpole Public School students from participating in the national walkout honoring the 17 students killed in the Parkland school shooting, but it didn’t stop them. While the winter storm kept Walpole students at home on March 14, they joined the national movement a day later, adding their voices to the national conversation on school safety and gun violence.
Walpole Public Schools administration worked with student organizers, as well as the town police department, to ensure a safe perimeter was established when approximately 350 of the 1,150 high school students gathered outside the school.
“I want to recognize the Walpole High School student body for honoring the victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in such a poignant manner,” said Walpole Public Schools Superintendent Lynch. “The student speeches were thoughtful and meaningful.”
Punctuated by a moment of silence for the Parkland victims, the student body also heard from three members of this year’s graduating class. Senior Ellen Irmiter pointed out that Walpole High’s speech and debate team competed alongside students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of the February 14 shootings, back in January. “We were able to witness firsthand the spirit these students have, which has carried them through this tragedy with dignity and commanded respect from around the nation,” said Irmiter. “We are here to stand up against gun violence in schools. We are here to bring Walpole High School closer together.”
Senior Lindsey Sullivan called on students to honor the victims by performing random acts of kindness. “Smile to 17 different people, carry books for a friend to class, hold the door open for someone,” said Sullivan. “Right here, right now, in this place, the best way we can honor those lost and make our school a better place is to support each other. Be kind and show it.”
Ryan Conlon, also a senior, pointed out that students gave much thought to why they walked out. “We’re walking out because we care,” said Conlon. “We’re walking out because those 17 students can’t walk out. The voices of the Walpole High School student body have to be heard. If we cannot change the policies at a national level, then we have to start locally by looking at each level within our own school. It starts with us. We must be a caring generation.”
"The National Walkout was a learning opportunity that empowered our students to take a stand for what they believe in,” High School Principal Stephen Imbusch said, “and I am proud of their efforts to make their voices heard."
Lynch said teachers remained in their classroom for students who didn’t participate in the walkout. “As Superintendent, it was a very proud moment to step back and observe young adults acting in such a responsible and caring manner.”