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#NeverAgain: AHS walkout held -- a day after 35 join Beacon Hill protest


national walkout'we will call for stricter background checks, a higher legal age for gun purchase and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment.'

STUDENTS' VOICES

Globe, March 15, 2018: Mass. students walk out over gun violence; administrators seek balance | Walkouts nationwide

March 7, 2018: Hundreds rally at AHS opposing national gun violence


UPDATED, March 15: For 17 minutes at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 15, Arlington High School students and staff walk out of classes in support those seeking to curb mass killings, such as the one in Parkland, Fla. The event was postponed one day because a blizzzard closed schools.

A full summary with photos will be reported.

Leaders made clear earlier that this is the student's own effort, in the spirit of the national effort, but not formally connected to it.

Under the banner of #NeverAgain, the AHS walkout continues local, brief protests, including one involving 200 students Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Somerville High

The latest: Meanwhile, on Wednesday, March 14, Griffin Gould, one of the leaders of the March 7 walkout at Arlington High School, told YourArlington that, earlier today, he was with a group of about 35 AHS students who went to Beacon Hill to speak with representatives about adopting safer and more responsible gun-control laws.

Specifically, he referred to bill H3610 (Extreme Risk Protective Order), which will allow judges to confiscate weapons from unfit owners based on reports from family members or mental health experts, and bill S2325, which ensured equitable funding for schools in need.

"We also demanded of our legislators that they refuse to let private corporations like the NRA and the GOAL pour their money into our politics," he wrote.

They met Sen. Cindy Friedman and Reps. Sean Garballey and Dave Rogers. "We plan to follow up within the next few days with them, in addition to Reps. Leonard Mirra and James J. Lyons Jr., whom we were not able to meet up with.

"The support for the H3610 ERPO bill seemed overwhelming, but it is just a matter of at which level it gets supported by our legislators." 

Isabella Dray, an AHS organizer and a member of the Student Council, told YourArlington on Sunday, March 4: "There is a national movement emerging of students who refuse to accept the inaction of Congress and are finding ways to raise our voices despite our inability to vote.


Patch March 7: Community expresses support


"We planned this walkout as a way for the students of Arlington High School to join the efforts of the Douglas High students as well as the many preexisting organizations fighting for gun reform."

 Janger's March 14 statement

In an email March 14, AHS principal Matt Janger, defined what he expected at the March 15 walkout. He comments included expressing pride in students; efforts:

"As you are probably aware, there were demonstrations across the U.S. today calling for action on gun safety in response to the Parkland shootings last month. AHS student leaders planned to participate, but our snow day interrupted those plans. The Student Council has circulated a press release rescheduling the walkout to Thursday at 10:00 am.

"Since the school schedule will be different on Thursday, I wanted to clarify our current expectations around school behavior and safety.

"There will not be disciplinary consequences for students who attend the walkout, are not disruptive, and return to class following the walkout. Staff will mark students tardy, in order to allow us to monitor attendance, not for disciplinary purposes.

"Students will need to make up work missed.

"If there are outside demonstrators, they are not allowed to come on campus. The Arlington police will be there to make sure that there is a safe separation between the students and any community members.

"Students who are not participating are expected to attend their regular classes.

"Please be respectful of and learn from your classmates, especially those with different points of view.

"I want to reiterate that I am proud of our students thoughtful efforts to organize and have a positive impact. We have a great deal of power to make our communities safer and more inclusive by getting involved, organizing, and volunteering." 

17 minutes for 17 deaths

A March 1 student news release says the walkout is planned for March 14, which one month after 17 students were shot to death at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida. "[S]tudents from Arlington High School will participate in a national school walkout demanding that Congress combat gun violence with reasonable and prompt reforms," it says.

The visibility event is set for 10 that morning, and students and staff have been asked to walk out to the front steps of AHS for 17 minutes in honor of the 17 lives lost in Florida. After all assemble, there will be a moment of silence for all victims of gun violence.

Student speakers will then share remarks about the need for change in legislation and their hopes for our future.

"Among other potential legislation," the release says, "we will call for stricter background checks, a higher legal age for gun purchase and the repeal of the Dickey Amendment."

Nationally, the March 14 walkout was originally organized by the organization called Women's March Youth EMPOWER. The AHS walkout, students say, is an independent event inspired by those at Parkland High and in solidarity with the March for Our Lives, set for March 24.

"We have chosen to hold our event on the same day as the national walkout to emphasize that the scope of these issues extends beyond Arlington and even Parkland, to our whole nation," the students say. 

March 14 had been 'Inclusion Day'

Further, they note that March 14 was also to be "Inclusion Day" at AHS, but plans changed after a snow storm closed school that day.

That day is intended to highlight and support equity, diversity and inclusion in the AHS community through activities that promote sharing and discussion. It is termed an opportunity to expand knowledge of the different cultures and communities at AHS.

The students organizing the walkout say they would respect those activities, before and after the walkout, but now there is no conflict.

Janger wrote in an email March 13: "As you know, Wednesday was our planned Inclusion Day, a day planned by students and staff to highlight diversity, equity, and inclusion at AHS. We had over 100 students planning roughly 25 of the workshops tomorrow, as well as outside speakers and presenters. It is unfortunate that all that hard work did not have a chance to run as planned. Thank you to everyone. We will regroup in the next week and figure out the best way to take advantage of all that wonderful planning and energy.

"At this point in the year, it will be difficult to find another day when we can run such a day. We have MCAS, AP exams, the end of the term, break, and graduation coming up within only about 40 days. However the cause of diversity, equity, and inclusion is still alive at AHS as is our commitment to hearing and celebrating our students' voices. We will be in touch soon."

The students describe the AHS walkout as nonpartisan. They encourage all students, staff and community allies to take part in this student-led initiative. They welcome the support of the community and hope to see you on the front steps of Arlington High School on March 15. Signs are encouraged, they said.

Administration support

Asked about permission from the administration, Dray wrote that students have its support. "We have worked to make sure that the walkout can happen with minimal disruption to the many workshops and speakers that are planned for the day."

A number contacted Dr. Matt Janger, the principal, over February break to discuss plans for the walkout. "[H]e was very supportive of our efforts. In the coming days, the school administration plans to release a statement of support for our walkout," she wrote.

The news release names these Student Council leaders Gayatri Sundar Rajan, Dray, Laura Kirchner, Sophie Plotkin and Dray, who have organized the event in collaboration with other AHS students and clubs.


Feb. 19, 2018: OPINION on GUNS: Local youth, and all of us, should get involved

The Atlantic, March 2, 2018: Why Colleges Are Embracing the #NeverAgain Movement 

New Yorker, Feb. 23, 2018: Urgency and Frustration: The Never Again Movement Gathers Momentum


This news summary was published Sunday, March 4, 2018, and updated March 15.

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