On the cool, clear morning of Wednesday, March 14, hundreds of Indian Creek Upper School students, teachers, and administrators gathered together at 10:00 a.m. on the Brady Terrace outside the school. This crowd, who moments before were animated like typical teenagers, fell immediately silent as they stepped outside. Members of the Indian Creek community stood together, many arm-in-arm, in a peaceful moment that was so quiet the calls of the red winged blackbirds and sounds of the woodpeckers in the forest surrounding campus rang out bright and clear. During the gathering, 17 Indian Creek students and teachers read the names and shared some information about each of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. After this time of reflection, the community took a silent walk together outside before resuming their school day.
The Indian Creek students, teachers, and administrators who chose to participate in Wednesday’s event joined hundreds of thousands of students around the country to participate in the National School Walkout, a Walkout to honor the students killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to call upon Congress to pass tighter gun control laws. The Walkout idea originated with EMPOWER, the youth branch of the Women's March. Women’s March Youth Coordinator Tabitha St. Bernard Jacobs stressed that this is not a protest against schools but it is a way to encourage school administrators to help students "amplify their voices."
At Indian Creek Upper School, Senior Class President Avery McMahon organized our school’s local event in conjunction with Grades 7-8 Student Government President Rebecca Streidel and Dean of Student Activities Tonya Montgomery. Over the past weeks, it has become clear that participating this event is important to many Indian Creek students. As Avery shared, “The issues being protested in the Walkout have been escalating for years, and have gotten to the point where we can no longer stay silent. If the people in power in our country are not going to make changes, it is time for the students and our country’s youth to step up and make our voices heard.”
On Wednesday, students, teachers, and administrators, had the option to participate in the Walkout or not, depending upon their own preferences. Some chose to participate in the Walkout in order to honor the victims of the Parkland shooting. Others chose to participate in order to add their voices to the collective message of the EMPOWER movement. Still others chose to stay in school with faculty supervision.
The walkout inspired a sense of pride in Indian Creek students and faculty alike. Head of Upper School Gerry Connolly shared that he was very impressed with how the students conducted themselves, how they portrayed the gravity of the event, and how thoughtfully they organized the walkout. “What was wonderful about this event is that it was student driven and took into account the matter of choice. Students made their own decisions about how they wanted to participate, and then they respected each others’ choices. As a school it was important to support these kids in what they felt they needed to do.”
Upper School students agreed with Mr. Connolly’s sentiments. “This is not just about politics, it’s about honoring our peers and having our voices heard. No matter what your beliefs, it’s important that our school supports us in this choice,” explained Student Government President Brandon Harris ’18. Senior Robbie Isaacson agrees. “It’s important to us that we are able to do this right now.”