Students at Seaside High School emerged from their building at precisely 10 a.m. on Wednesday in a gesture of respect and remembrance for their 17 peers who lost their lives in the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on Feb. 14. The walkout, conducted in cooperation with school officials, came as classes paused for the 17-minute observance.
Circling together in bands along the edge of the athletic field, students offered a message of mutual respect as they went one-by-one to the microphone and expressed their thoughts in one-line comments:
“I will respect my peers.”
“I will stand up for others.”
“I will show kindness and to everyone.”
“I will not watch others be treated poorly.”
“I will extend friendship to strangers.”
“I will speak up when things aren’t right.”
“I will be a voice for those who no longer have one.”
Unlike many walkouts happening around the country, student organizer Sequoia Shand said the goal of Wednesday’s presentation was focused on advocating for “mutual respect” for one another rather than stark emphasis on gun control.
For 17 minutes, 17 different students presented call-to-actions every minute, on the minute, about how students can support one another. Every statement was sandwiched between long moments of silence.
Among the approximately 150 visitors who joined the walkout were district superintendent Sheila Roley and principal Jeff Roberts.
In the wake of recent shootings, Seaside High School has taken some precaution by tightening lockdown protocols and choosing to lock every door except the front entrance throughout the day. Preliminary designs for the new Seaside school campus feature school shooting-specific locking mechanisms that can lock down doors and passage ways in the school remotely.
“My concerns are like everyone’s in this national trend,” Roberts said. “We don’t expect this kind of thing here, but we’d be naive to think it couldn’t happen here. But I take solace in the ways we’ve taken precautions.”
“This is about the lives that were taken at Parkland High School,” student Jetta Ideue said. “This is for those people who were innocent that night.”