HUDSON – Hudson students joined thousands nationwide Wednesday, March 14 in protest of gun violence and in tribute to the 17 victims of the Parkland, Fla., shooting (and other school shootings), walking out of class at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes.
The campus was closed to visitors, parents and media, and police cars blocked different entrances to the high school during the walkout. There were no supporters or protesters for the student-led demonstration.
About half of the 1,600 students at Hudson High School participated in the walkout in the school gym, while an unknown number of Hudson Middle School students participated. Those who did not choose to participate remained in their classrooms with their teachers and continued lessons.
The demonstration was student-driven and led by students, said Sheryl Sheatzley, communications manager for the district. Teachers were present if they had a free period. There were no student problems during the walkout, and students did not face consequences for participating as long as they followed the Student Code of Conduct.
According to Sheatzley, there were 17 minutes of silence — one minute for each person who died in the Florida shooting. Large signs were held up for each of the victims.
“They were extremely responsible and respectful,” Sheatzley said. “The students came down and were in the gym 18 minutes, which is what they said it would be.”
At the middle school, Hudson Middle School Principal Kimberly Cockley said, “Today, at 10 a.m, students who chose to participate in the student-led walkout gathered in the gymnasium for 17 minutes of silence. Students were silent and peaceful entering, gathering, and returning to class.”
Although students were not available for comment afterward, three of the student organizers at HHS — Kelsey Lowman (senior at HHS and president of student government), Anna Berger and Cade Capper — told the Hudson Hub-Times earlier this month that despite their young age, they would be heard.
“We will participate in our beliefs,” Lowman said. “My generation is done playing the political game. If our political leaders can’t act to make us safe, they are done.”
Berger highlighted another portion of the event.
“17 new things, 17 new smiles, 17 new friends, 17 new compliments,” Berger said.
Hudson High School Principal Brian Wilch, Cockley and Superintendent Phil Herman sent letters to parents informing them about the walkout.
“The safety of our students and staff is our top priority, and as such, our district policies, rules, and student Code of Conduct will remain in place during this National Student Walkout,” the letter stated. “Our role as administrators and staff will be to supervise our students while they are exercising their right to freedom of expression. Our student leaders have openly shared what they are planning; however, if you hear about any plans other than the walkouts scheduled for approximately 20 minutes at 10 a.m., please let our principals know. In addition, to help maintain a safe environment, we will not allow visitors, parents, or media on campus the morning of March 14.”
Reporter Laura Freeman can be reached at 330-541-9434 or firstname.lastname@example.org