A call for change


Seventeen chairs sit along the curb. The empty chairs represented the 17 lives taken during the shooting in Parkland, Fla.

Lauren Wisniewski, Author

From 9:50 A.M. to 10:17 P.M., students walked out to remember the lives of the 17 victims of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting and demand government actions to promote safer schools.

On Feb. 14, 2018, 17 students were killed by a former student who walked into the school with an AR-15.  After this tragedy, a nationwide movement began to promote student safety.

“I think overall it was a moment of solidarity with the victims. It wasn’t necessarily about walking out, just more so that I wanted to meet with people and hear what they have to say and start a conversation that we too often overlook,” Lauren Kamykowski (12) said.

Although the walkout was a nationwide movement, what sets Lake Central’s walkout apart from many others is that Lake Central’s was overseen by administrators and students participating faced no consequences for walking out. Changing the schedule to fit the walkout during PtE, providing police protection for students outside and working with student coordinators were some of the measures administrators took to make the walkout run smoothly, although the administration has made it clear that they are not pro-walkout, but in favor of letting students express safety concerns.

“The student leadership came to me, and I worked with Dr. Veracco and Mr. Gandolfi.  We came to the conclusion to keep this as safe as possible. I am not pro-walkout. I am pro-school safety. [The student organizers] kept the message positive and focused on school safety and remembering the students from Douglas High School, so that was our motivation behind the event.” Mr. Sean Begley, Principal, said.

The walkout included students gathering in yellow lot, a moment of silence, 17 empty chairs, naming of the victims, ringing a bell 17 times and speeches by Aaron Cappello (12), Alexander Vrbanoff (12), Head Principal, Sean Begley, Dylan Foster (12) and Mia Brann (12). Participants disregarded the cold temperatures to respectfully observe the ceremony and listen to the messages of hope for a safer future and what we can do to create it.

“[Students can better the future] by taking advantage of social media and continuing to write your Congressmen and Senate members. We can help to prove to them that the voting public wants to see change in our current gun laws,” Dylan Foster (12) said.