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WHS Students Participate in Nation Wide Walk Out

By: Alex Badger and Jack McGinn

“Seventeen of our fellow students will never go home. They’ll never grow up, never have a family, never experience the countless joys of life that await all of us. We need to ensure that their deaths were not in vain.” These were the powerful words that rung out in the WHS lobby as all four class presidents spoke to the majority of the WHS student body on March 14. Their speeches encouraged students to continue to use their voices to make a difference, especially in the wake of the events in Parkland, Florida.

This speech came as a part of a walkout that schools around the nation participated in that was organized by the Women’s March Youth Empower. The goal of the walkout was for students to unite and speak out against gun violence both inside and outside of schools in America.

The event was entirely organized by students who were asked to demonstrate their support by walking out of their classrooms at 10:00 a.m. for 17 minutes; the 17 stood for the 17 lives lost in Florida a month prior. When asked why the walkout was started, the Women’s March organization responded by saying, “We are living in an age where young people like us do not feel safe in our schools. This issue is personal for all of us… We raise our voices for action against all these forms of gun violence.”

At Westborough High School, the movement began as students filed into the lobby, filling it to capacity, surrounding the four class presidents who stood behind a podium representing the school. The buzz of chattering students quickly turned to a hushed silence as Class of 2019 president, Omar Siddiqui, stepped up to the microphone.

Siddiqui and the Class of 2020 President, Rhea Balasubramanian, began the event by thanking everyone for joining them in being a small part of a statement that could be heard nationwide. They followed up by acknowledging those who lost their lives in Florida; they listed off the 17 names, then proceeded to call the entire assembly to a long moment of silence for the victims.

Next came the freshman class’ president, Neil Kale, who delivered an emphatic and strong message to the hundreds of people around him. “Now is the time we stand up and make sure this never, ever happens again anywhere in America,” he proclaimed, “We’ve had enough, and it’s time for change!”

Liz Hopkinson, President of the Class of 2018, implored students to register to vote, sign a banner to be sent to Westborough’s representative in congress, and join her on the March for Our Lives–another activist parade where many students and citizens will march to the state house in Boston on March 24 to convey their message about gun control.  

Balasubramanian commented on the event saying “It was motivating and empowering to see nearly the entire school in front of me united in one issue and so willing to make a lasting impact.”

In the end, one message of this movement, though it be portrayed through the lens of gun control, is for students to understand the power they have to enact change in our world.

Photo credit to Emma West and Haley Welsh.

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