By DON STINE
Neptune and Ocean Township High School students joined other students in a national walkout across the United States Wed., March 14 in a protest urging elected officials to take action on school gun violence
The demonstration comes one month after the shooting massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people were killed. More than 2,800 demonstrations were held in all 50 states, from Maine to Hawaii, and drew hundreds of thousands of students.
Students also gathered in major cities, like New York, and others gathered outside of the White House to show their support for stronger legislation dealing with gun violence. Some demonstrations lasted 17 minutes, one minute for each student killed, but other demonstrations lasted for hours.
In Neptune, about 300 students, from all grade levels at the high school, walked out at 10 a.m. and had a moment of silence for the Florida shooting victims.
“Although we don’t generally mix politics and school, we see this opportunity as a teachable moment in time. Students have respectfully asked permission to participate and we feel comfortable acknowledging their collective voice. Teachers will take advantage of student interest to plan and execute lessons about the constitution, civil rights, local history, and other relevant topics,” said School Superintendent Tami Crader.
At Ocean Township High School, close to 400 students, also from all grade levels, gathered on the football field at 10 a.m.
“The kids did a phenomenal job keeping it a memorial and keeping it to 17 minutes,” Principal Dawn Kaszuba said.
Students had a moment of silence, read a poem written by one of the Stoneman Douglas students who was killed, gave several speeches, read the names of each student killed at Stoneman Douglas last month, and read a list of other school shootings in the country.
“I feel the kids had an opportunity to say what needed to say, felt empowered, and will go on to do good things,” Kaszuba said.