A steady flow of Northport High School students exited the school at noon today, part of a nationwide walkout organized by Students Demand Action, a movement that began in 2016 (and built momentum after the 2018 mass shooting in Parkland, Florida) when young activists across the country came together to ask lawmakers for meaningful action on gun safety policy.
“Fearing for our lives every day shouldn’t be normal. Grieving this often shouldn’t be normal. Being desensitized to daily gun violence shouldn’t be normal,” reads the latest post on the nonprofit’s social media page, a response to the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas this past Tuesday.
Word of today’s walkout, announced on the Students Demand Action social media pages yesterday, quickly gathered speed online. Both Superintendent of Schools Robert Banzer and Northport High School Principal Robert Dennis gave permission for students wishing to participate in the walkout to peacefully gather outside during school hours.
“The events that took place in Uvalde this week are beyond heartbreaking. We undoubtedly recognize the emotional toll that school shootings have on students and school staff around the country,” said Mr. Banzer. “We encourage students to use their voice and actions to enact positive change and no student will be reprimanded or disciplined for participating in a peaceful walkout.” The superintendent added that if students chose to participate, security would be placed accordingly to make sure they were safe while doing so.
“As Principal Dennis shared with staff last night, ‘We as a school community will work to provide a safe, structured, and orderly venue for students to express themselves and be heard,’” he said.
Present at the walkout were approximately 250-300 students, said district officials, as well as district security, officers from the Suffolk County Police Department, a helicopter overhead, and numerous News12 reporters. Students gathered at the school’s main entrance courtyard, while security lined the parking lot and reporters stood just off school property on Laurel Hill Road.
About 10 minutes into the walkout, students gathered in the center of the courtyard. Approximately three to five students spoke to the crowd after holding a moment of silence.