Francis Lewis Stands with the Parkland Victims at the National School Walkout

Hundreds of Francis Lewis students walked out of school on March 14th for 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost at the Stoneman Douglas shooting and to demand stricter gun control. Speeches were made and students waved signs in the air, calling for change and action. Francis Lewis High School was among the 3,000 schools that participated in the National School Walkout.

“This is reality,” said Thayany Jeyakumaran, a senior. “We need to let everyone else understand that this is an actual issue. That people are thinking that guns can be taken around as toys. This can’t be taken anymore.”

Yasmeen Persaud, FLHS News Video Reporter

School activist clubs like Global Advocates, ACLU, and No Place for Hate all came together to participate in this event. The peaceful demonstration brought upon activism for stricter gun laws including raising the minimum age to purchase guns and enforcing more background checks for gun owners.

“I’m just glad that we had this event to spread awareness for it, but it’s sad that we have to do these kind of things to speak out for those who lost their lives,” said Catherine Cour, Vice President of the Global Advocates Club.

Yasmeen Persaud, FLHS News Video Reporter

The unity of the student body and the mutual support have shown the solidarity of the Francis Lewis community. The Parkland tragedy deeply affected millions of students, parents, and teachers across the country.

“It gave me a sense of empowerment and leadership that you don’t get everyday at school, because in a walkout you get to actively participate in a social stance where otherwise you couldn’t,” said Silvia Montoya, a junior.

Although this was not a school sponsored event, students who walked out were not penalized. Handmade posters and red roses were scattered throughout the chants of “Enough is enough” that echoed across the school athletic field.

“I decided to attend this walkout because I feel no kids should be victimized with guns at a school,” said Montoya. “Especially no one should be afraid to go to school in fear of a shooting.”

School faculty and staff were to remain neutral, but Annette Palomino, AP of Guidance, watched the student body and expressed how proud she was of those who attended this peaceful protest.

“I’m amazed,” said Palomino. “I’m emotionally proud. This is what makes Francis Lewis so special is that over 4000 kids can come out peacefully for an amazing reason and you guys could all stand together.”

Ashley Dawkins, FLHS News Video Reporter

Powerful speeches were given by students like Ivan Daquial and Monti Lopez, who demanded for Congress to establish stricter gun laws rather than simply tweeting in response to the gun violence occurring across the nation.

“What do we want? Gun control.” chanted Daquial, President of the American Civil Liberties Union Club. “When do we want it? Now!”

This empowering movement allowed students to voice their opinions, advocate for their rights, and speak out on issues concerning their lives. They hope to show the elected officials that the younger generations are politically engaged in shaping their future.

“The fact that school shootings have become a recurring incident in society is horrifying and the US government must reform,” said Alleyah Ally, a junior. “I want the federal government to control the production, manufacturing, and distribution of assault-style weapons.”

National Walkout Day is the one of the first of a few movements to come. On March 24th, there will be another demonstration, March for Our Lives, at Washington D.C. and multiple cities across the nation. Several Francis Lewis students will be taking the bus together to attend the Washington D.C. march together.

“The movement doesn’t end here,” said Anelle Molina, a junior. “This is merely the beginning. We are going to do more and make sure that our voices are heard.”

Additional interviews from the FLHS Walkout:
Ashley Dawkins, FLHS News Video Reporter

Precious Richardson, FLHS News Video Reporter

Yasmeen Persaud, FLHS News Video Reporter

Video reporting team: Thomas Cheng, Ashley Dawkins, Manoli Figetakis, Illy Marion, Eilam Meintser, Charlene Miras, Christopher Ocampo,  Rosellen Park, Aayushi Patel, Precious Richardson, and Jonathan Wong