BY EDITORIAL BOARD
CCHS students walked out of campus buildings to form a large heart in the football field on Friday, April 20, in the third walkout since late March to memorialize the 20th anniversary of Columbine High School’s massacre.
Organized entirely by a small group of CCHS students part of the “Cooper City #NeverAgain” movement, including senior Sabrine Brismeur* and sophomore Abigail Tuschman*, the demonstration was part of the “National School Walkout,” which occurred across the country. Sparked by the recent and local tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) which took 17 lives in Parkland, the National School Walkout aimed to memorialize the victims and call for efforts to fight against gun violence.
With at least 2,000 registered events and a walkout in every state, CCHS administration decided to sanction the morning walkout as opposed to punishing students who attempted to do it on their own. An estimated 300 to 500 students participated in the walkout.
“I was on the field making sure the students could get into the shape of the heart,” senior and volunteer Odette Barcelo said. “It was overwhelming to see how many of the students really listened to us and wanted to be apart of our walk out. I think the event went so well for how many people we had.”
At 10:00 a.m., Principal Wendy Doll spoke over the intercom to students and extended them the opportunity to walk out in memory of Columbine, and in support of efforts to increase school safety and reduce gun violence. Teachers were encouraged neither to promote nor dissuade students from participating in the walkout, and parents received a pre-recorded phone call from Principal Doll the night before the demonstration.
Students walked down to the football field and arranged themselves in the outline of the heart with the assistance of volunteers clad in bright orange. After assembling, Tuschman opened with a short speech in honor of Columbine and requested a 13-second moment of silence. After, the organizers encouraged students to turn to their neighbor and discuss ways in which they could help reduce gun violence in their communities and in other areas, and strengthen school safety.
“The hardest part was just getting people to really understand why we were out there,” junior and volunteer Natalia Aguirre, who helped arrange the demonstration from the booth, said. “Even though not everyone feels as passionate about these issues as we do, we can still come together as a student body to support our fellow students.”
A handful of student volunteers had been working to set up the field in preparation for the event since the early morning, coordinating from the top of the bleachers to the field itself in order to set up cones in the shape of a heart for students to outline. The choreography took an estimated hour, as volunteers frequently re-evaluated the shape and size of the heart to prepare for the incoming students at 10.
Several other volunteers put together a banner with paint for students to sign along the path back to main campus after the walkout, which read “I Pledge to Participate in Efforts to End Gun Violence in Schools.”
“It went very well,” Principal Doll said. “Everyone was timely and organized and it sent a caring message.”
Columbine High School is known in the United States as being one of the first major mass school shootings, and remains one of the deadliest today. On March 20, 1999, two senior students at Columbine murdered 12 students and one teacher, and injured 20 more before committing suicide.
*Note: Sabrine Brismeur and Abigail Tuschman are members of The Lariat staff
Photo by Sarah Khan