Students honor victims of school gun violence in walkout protest

By Andrea Ray | Mar 23, 2018
Courtesy of: Natasha Sudofsky Old Rochester Regional Junior High School students read out speeches describing the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on March 15.

Mattapoisett — Repeated bad weather and administrators' concerns canceled a walkout campaign against gun violence at Old Rochester Regional High School, but those problems didn't plague students at the junior high.

The original walkout was scheduled for March 14, "National Walkout Day," during which students and staff around the country walked out of class at 10 a.m. to protest gun violence in schools.

March 14 ended up being a snow day for the students, but organizers Natasha Sudofsky of Marion, Sofia Martins of Mattapoisett and Jen Williams of Rochester (all eighth-graders) chose to simply mount the same protest the next day.

The walkout protest was met with support from the administration, said Sudofsky. Junior High Principal Kevin Brogioli made it clear, she explained, that nobody participating in the walkout would be punished, so long as they remained respectful.

Brogioli moved a study period that would normally have started later to begin at 10 a.m., in order to minimize learning distractions.

More than 200 students and staff participated in the walkout, which lasted from 10-10:17 a.m., in honor of the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting.

"We stayed silent for 17 minutes, as 17 students gave short speeches about each victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. We shared stories from the victims' families and friends, information about their plans for the coming years, and the impact they made on the world," Sudofsky said.

"I know that all the student speakers, including me, had much difficulty summarizing a kid just like ours' life in a paragraph or two," she added.

Sudofsky said that the walkout remained respectful, and ended with a long moment of silence.

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