Opinion: Student Walkout Is America’s Lesson of a Lifetime

March 15, 2018 Updated: March 26, 2018    

When Marjorie Stoneman Douglas exercised her freedom of speech to protect the Everglades at a 1973 public hearing in Everglades City, she never imagined that years later a Florida school would bear her name.

Douglas was a tenacious fighter against the indifference of officials destroying wetlands and upsetting a national treasure.

America’s Youth, Our National Treasure

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, located in Parkland, Florida, is in the Miami metropolitan area.

The school is part of the Broward County Public School district, and it is the only public high school in Parkland.

Like Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, the school, through the passion of its students, is standing against indifference. This passion is especially exemplified through their inspiring the March 14 walkout in schools across America.

The students are at a defining moment in American history and standing against the violence that has claimed young lives gone too soon.

These young people, and all of America’s youth deserve our respect, affirmation, and empowerment.

Our youth dedicated to this cause against violence deserve the nation’s respect. They are our national treasure and teaching America the lesson of a lifetime.

Students: Moral Catalysts for Change

As I write this article, the clarion call for action against violence is reverberating across America.

The March 14 walkout is reminding us that the power of student’s voices will not be deterred. America’s students stand as the moral catalysts for change as detailed in the following headlines of the day:

  • ‘We want change’
  • Los Angeles students lie in silence on football field, spelling out ‘Enough’
  • A generation shaped by gun violence makes itself heard
  • Columbine students walk out of class as part of national protest against gun violence
  • Elementary school students walk out singing, ‘Put a Little Love in Your Heart’
  • A 12-year-old girl’s sign: One death is too many
  • She’s 14 and walked out of her school wearing a bulletproof vest
  • National school walkout marks month since Parkland mass shooting
  • National Student Walkout Posters Say Exactly What Politicians Should Hear
  • Students at an Oregon high school form a giant peace sign
  • Security measures will be taken by school districts to protect protesting students on March 14, 2018

Supporting a Righteous Cause Against Violence

There are pockets of resistance to the student walkout with school administrators walking gingerly, threatening punishment, or fearful of advocating support.

Yet, it was heartening to see paragons of visionary leadership working with the students. Throughout America, these administrative leaders were dedicated to making the protest a teachable moment. Their collaborating with the students on walkout procedures, security, and safety issues were commendable and expressive of the ideals of being educators.

The official Twitter account of the NYPD School Safety Division, responsible for 5,200 officers who maintain the safety of the 1,800 New York City schools expressed indefatigable support for students through its commissioner.

“Today, National School Walkout Day, we expect a peaceful protest against gun violence. NYPD School Safety Division is partnering with students, teachers, and community to ensure a successful walk. Safety 1st.”

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho tweeted on the morning of the protest:

“To our aware, responsible, and inspiring @MDCPS students. Remember that while civil disobedience will be embraced today, your personal safety & that of those around you must be protected. Use your judgement as you stand for what you believe in. Represent us well.”

Robert Runcie, the superintendent of the district where the tragedy took place also backed the protests. He stated to a local news agency that he is “proud of the students focus and determination to turn their grief into action for positive change.”

Runcie also tweeted a quote from Marjory Stoneman Douglas on the protest day, “Be a nuisance when it counts. Do your part to inform and stimulate the public to join your action. Be depressed, discouraged, & disappointed at failure & the disheartening effects of ignorance, greed, corruption & bad politics—but never give up.”

Superintendent Brett Provenzano of the Fairport Central School District in New York State, shared these sentiments of the student protests in a letter to the community:

“I am proud of their leadership and that they are engaging in this defining moment. Through this process, our main objective will be to have a constructive, meaningful, and safe student-led event; as a district, we want to provide our students with the opportunity to express their voices civilly and prompt reflection from all sides of the issue.”

Larry Johnson, principal of Firestone High School in Akron, Ohio supported the student protest.

“Their willingness to take a stance is important to us and we are in full support of them organizing and making that statement. This makes U.S. history a real thing, not just talked about in books. They’re living a piece of history right now. Just to see students this passionate, this is what learning is. I’m very proud of how they’ve gone about this. This experience is going to really help them as they take this down the road.”

In Portland, Maine several administrators from Portland High School (PHS) held up signs to support protesting students. The signs read “PHS supports “#notonemore” and “PHS supports 17 minutes for 17 lives.

At Linden High School in New Jersey, Principal Yelena Horre supported the different approaches of protests.

“I think students are choosing to demonstrate in different ways maybe for different reasons. Maybe the students who are sitting in are sitting in to honor the lives and maybe the students who are walking out are walking out because they want to speak out and they want to make their presence known and to say that change is needed.”

Final Reflections

America’s youth will no longer be silent in the face of glaciers of apathy that have frozen sensitivities, reason, and judgement.

The deafening silence of indifference after past tragedies that led to talk without action has now met a roaring response demanding resolve.

The voices of America’s youth are speaking out and their actions are inspiring the reawakening of the nation.

Vincent J. Bove

Vincent J. Bove, CPP, is a national speaker and author on issues critical to America. Bove is a recipient of the FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award for combating crime and violence and is a former confidant of the New York Yankees. His newest book is “Listen to Their Cries.” For more information, see www.vincentbove.com

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.