At 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14, hundreds of students at Northview High School in Plainfield Township participated in two separate walkouts to honor the 17 victims killed at Marjory Stoneman High School one month ago.
The first walkout, organized by student council, took place in the gym. Student leaders read the names of the victims and the crowd of more than 200 stayed silent for 17 seconds.
The demonstration was indoors to promote safety, said Ellie Haveman, a senior and the student body vice president.
"Sometimes going outside can be a little iffy on the safety of that," Haveman said. "And it can be an easy target, so we decided to go in the gym."
The organizers then listed to 17 ways to improve the community. Students left the gym and returned to their third hour classes after about 10 minutes.
The intention was to avoid any political stance, said Junior Lauren Davis, a co-organizer of the event.
"We wanted to make surer that it was strictly just to honor the 17," Davis said. "We wanted to make sure that no one was excluded because of their political rights."
Also at 10 a.m., more than 100 students walked out of the school, spending 17 minutes in complete silence. The demonstration more closely followed the Women's March Youth EMPOWER group's national walkout website, which focused on government inaction on gun reform.
"I didn't feel like going to the gym was enough justice for the 17 lives lost," said Senior Alexis Warden. "I just felt it brought more attention to it if we walked outside instead of staying in school."
The students stood outside to call for action, said Senior Yesenia Cotto.
"Coming out here really shows the school, and it shows everyone who's here that it is an issue that we need to take seriously not just with words, but with actions."
Inside or outside, it was heartwarming to have people participate in something and express how they feel, Davis said.
This was a lesson in ethical citizenship, said Principal Mark Thomas.
"All of our students got to exercise their right," Thomas said. "Some stayed in class, some walked outside and some went to the gymnasium. And they all made great choices, and they supported the fact that they thought critically about this. And that's exactly what Northview Public Schools wants our kids to do."
Teachers took attendance at the end of the third hour classes to make sure students returned after the demonstrations.
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