Kutztown School Walk­out hon­ors mem­ory of school shoot­ing vic­tims

Stu­dent or­ga­niz­ers: It’s not a protest, but a memo­rial for those who died in Park­land, Fla.

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - FRONT PAGE - By Lisa Mitchell lmitchell@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @kutz­town­pa­triot on Twit­ter

Kutztown stu­dents silently walked out of class at 10 a.m. on March 14 for the #Enough Na­tional School Walk­out.

About 100 mid­dle school­ers gath­ered in the Com­mons for a stu­dent or­ga­nized School Walk­out hon­or­ing the mem­ory of the 17 Florida school shoot­ing vic­tims. They read each name, talked about them, had a mo­ment of si­lence, rang the gong and placed a rose around the Amer­i­can flag for each vic­tim.

Kutztown High School stu­dents also or­ga­nized a School Walk­out in the school gym. Read the re­lated story about the high school event by Pa­triot in­tern Brady Tucker, a KHS se­nior.

Stu­dents walked out of class but re­mained in­side the school build­ing. Af­ter the memo­rial of about 20 min­utes, stu­dents then qui­etly re­turned to classes.

Kutztown Su­per­in­ten­dent George Fiore re­ceived nu­mer­ous in­quiries from stu­dents about par­tic­i­pat­ing in the na­tional move­ment #Enough Na­tional School Walk­out that calls for Congress to pass tighter fed­eral gun laws.

“What kids re­ally wanted was to rec­og­nize and memo­ri­al­ize the chil­dren and staff that passed in that hor­ri­ble tragedy in Park­land,” said Fiore.

Em­pha­siz­ing that this is a stu­dent or­ga­nized event, Fiore said stu­dents came up with all of the de­tails, cre­ated posters, read the names of the vic­tims and led the event them­selves.

“This to me speaks about our com­mu­nity, we care about oth­ers,” said Fiore. “I know there are other is­sues as­so­ci­ated that are more adult is­sues. The kids are grav­i­tat­ing to the em­pa­thy and sym­pa­thy side of it, which I think is in­dica­tive of our com­mu­nity. We care about each other and we don’t want any­one to get hurt.”

KMS or­ga­niz­ers in­cluded 8th graders Elena Se­wall, Olivia Wan­ner, Cooper Dunn, Marnie Derr, and Ni­cole An­ge­lisanti.

“Rather than a protest, this was to honor these peo­ple,” said Se­wall.

“We knew that all these peo­ple died and we wanted to do some­thing to honor them be­cause this shouldn’t hap­pen in school. We shouldn’t be wor­ried about that,” said An­ge­lisanti.

“We should feel safe at school,” added Wan­ner.

“The state­ment we’re try­ing to make is we wanted to have peo­ple show re­spect to those 17 who died but also bring (to their at­ten­tion) that it’s 17 peo­ple, that’s a lot of peo­ple and just be­cause it hap­pened there, it doesn’t mean it can’t hap­pen here. It to­tally could,” said Se­wall. “So get­ting peo­ple aware and to un­der­stand is im­por­tant.”

Quot­ing the 2nd Amend­ment that ev­ery per­son has the right to bare arms in a well-reg­u­lated mili­tia, Se­wall said, “We wanted to honor those peo­ple who died be­cause the 2nd Amend­ment is not well reg­u­lated.”

Se­wall said they want to show sup­port to Mar­jory Stone­man Dou­glas High School in Park­land, Fla.

“If it were to ever hap­pen to us, we’d want them to sup­port us,” said Se­wall.

“School shouldn’t be a dan­ger­ous place for us to go,” said An­ge­lisanti. “We shouldn’t be wor­ried about com­ing to school. We shouldn’t have to worry about say­ing good­bye to our par­ents ev­ery­day if that’s our ac­tual good­bye. We shouldn’t have to worry about that.”

“We need to be pos­i­tive and share our views and be open but also fig­ure out what’s ap­pro­pri­ate and what’s not,” said Se­wall.

They were pleased with the num­ber of stu­dents who par­tic­i­pated in the School Walk­out.

“They were so quiet,” said Se­wall. “Each minute is for a vic­tim so you wanted to think about that vic­tim for a minute.”

“Be­ing quiet is very pow­er­ful,” said Wan­ner. “It can do a lot.”

“It makes the big­gest im­pres­sion on peo­ple,” said An­ge­lisanti. “When we rang the gong and said their names and we talked about them, if peo­ple were talk­ing it wouldn’t have made as big of an im­pres­sion.”

“We were try­ing to tell them about who these peo­ple were so they could re­late to them and think about them in their own lives,” said Se­wall.

“We need to know that we’re all the same and it could hap­pen to any­one,” said An­ge­lisanti.

They also en­cour­age stu­dents to make a dif­fer­ence through kind­ness.

“Just help­ing oth­ers, con­grat­u­lat­ing them or boost­ing their en­ergy. Just have an en­vi­ron­ment that’s well rounded and good,” said Wan­ner.

“If we see a stu­dent is strug­gling, we can’t just ig­nore them. We need to help them out and boost their con­fi­dence and just make them feel wel­come in school,” said An­ge­lisanti.

“I’m re­ally proud of our stu­dents for step­ping for­ward and do­ing some­thing that they be­lieve in,” said KMS Prin­ci­pal James Brown. “They’re han­dling it in a non-po­lit­i­cal way and they’re mak­ing a state­ment, that they re­ally think that stu­dents should be pro­tected when they’re go­ing to school.”

Brown said the stu­dents are mak­ing a very im­por­tant state­ment about stu­dent safety in our na­tion.

“It’s some­thing we re­ally need to think about,” said Brown.

Peace. Love. Kutztown. spon­sored the Kutztown School Walk­outs. Founded by Kutztown Mid­dle School teacher Beth M. Pat­ten, Peace. Love. Kutztown. is a com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion that fos­ters com­mu­nity unity through ed­u­ca­tion, re­spect, and di­a­logue and aims to stop hate and ad­dress bul­ly­ing.

“As a com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tion we are hon­ored to sup­port our stu­dents that are ex­press­ing their rights and their voice to stand up for what they be­lieve in,” said Pat­ten. “As a an ed­u­ca­tor I am pro­foundly in­vig­o­rated by our stu­dents will­ing­ness to cre­ate change in our world.”

LISA MITCHELL - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Kutztown stu­dents silently walked out of class at 10 a.m. on March 14 for the #Enough Na­tional School Walk­out. Mid­dle school­ers or­ga­nized a School Walk­out memo­rial. They talked about the vic­tims had a mo­ment of si­lence, and placed a rose around the...

Kutztown Mid­dle School stu­dents or­ga­nized a School Walk­out that en­cour­aged stu­dents to silently walk out of class at 10 a.m. on March 14 for the #Enough Na­tional School Walk­out. Mid­dle school­ers talked about the Florida school shoot­ing vic­tims, had a...

LISA MITCHELL — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Kutztown stu­dents placed a rose around the Amer­i­can flag for each Florida school shoot­ing vic­tim.

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