OHS students call for end to violence at school walkout

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee High School students participated in a 17-minute long walkout on March 14 at 8:45 a.m., the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Students gave speeches against school violence and bullying and held 17 seconds of silence in memory of the 17 lives lost in the shooting in Parkland.

Okeechobee High School junior Ayan Desai addresses fellow classmates during the OHS walkout on Mar. 14. Photo by Richard Marion.

OHS junior Christine Groso was the first to speak at the walkout.

“When something like this happens so close to home,” said Miss Groso, “it impacts us on a much deeper level. It causes us to look at our community and ask ‘what if it happened to us.’”

The walkout was part of a planned national walkout at schools all across the country and comes a week after Florida Governor Rick Scott signed new regulations into law, raising the legal age to buy a firearm to 21 and extending the waiting period to three days.

OHS sophomore La’Fasia Smith addressed the students gathered in the OHS courtyard on the topic of bullying in schools.

“We come to school to learn,” said Miss. Smith, “but instead some of our classmates are taunted for not having top-of-the-shelf shoes or their hair and how they’re dressed. Before you say a mean comment, you should think about what that kid has going on at home outside the school gates.”

In posts on social media sites such as Facebook, some members of the Okeechobee community derided the walkout as being anti-second amendment, but the topic of banning guns was not brought up in any of the speeches given by students.

Senior Grace Luna called for unity in the wake of the tragic school shooting.

“Individually we are strong, but together we are invincible,” Miss Luna said. “We need to come together, not just as teenagers, but as a nation in unity. Because if there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that on Feb. 14, 2018, 17 people should not have lost their lives.”

Students were quiet and respectful during the 17-minute walkout and held signs in support of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas that read “#MSDSTRONG” and “Break the silence, stop the violence.”

After the walkout, which was planned during a transition period between classes, students returned to normal school activities.

Okeechobee High School students gathered in the school courtyard to listen to speeches on school violence and bullying and observe a 17-second moment of silence in honor of the lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Photo by Richard Marion.



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