TWINSBURG — The bell that once rang for classes at the Old School pealed 17 times this morning at Twinsburg High School, shattering the solitude of the snowy morning in a show of support for the 17 Florida shooting victims.
At 10 a.m. this morning, about 450 Twinsburg High School students conducted a 17-minute walk outside to protest gun violence, exactly one month after youngsters their age lost their lives in Parkland, Fla. The walkout was part of the National School Walkout that saw thousands of students nationwide demonstrate against gun violence and in tribute to victims of school shootings.
Neither the public or media was permitted onto school property to watch the proceedings, and police cruisers guarded entrances.
The walkout was the idea of Twinsburg High School senior Julius Edgerson.
“I don’t want something like this to happen at my school,” he said.
“To be completely honest,” Edgerson said, “I don’t feel safe at school and I feel since the [Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School] shooting, everyone has been on edge … School shootings need to stop.”
Participating students filed outside the school at about 10 a.m., gathering near the front entrance. About a dozen supporters viewed the walkout from across the street, lining a small stretch of Ravenna Road in front of the Twinsburg Government Center, the snow falling heavy around them. An occasional driver honked a horn in support as he or she passed.
No one protested the student demonstration.
Each minute during the event, the bell rang, and a student representative read off “each victim’s name, age and a short bio about their hobbies, achievements and goals for the future,” Edgerson said, adding, “ … High school shootings are very personal because we are all alike in some way … The victims were dancers, athletes, singers and artists and we can all relate to them in many ways.”
Thelma Franks was one of those shivering in the cold to support the students.
“I have a student here at Twinsburg High School,” she said. “But for the grace of God it [a shooting] hasn’t happened here.”
Franks said she encouraged her daughter to take part in the walkout.
“We have lost so many students,” she said. “We have a lot of parents that are still grieving, so that’s the main reason why I’m here. Things need to change, it’s getting ridiculous. We just have too many children who’ve lost their lives.”
Bearing a sign which read, “Moms demand action,” Simone Edelheit said, “I just want something to come of all this, rather than everybody just talking about it and forgetting about it. You know, actually seeing people come together and make changes to make things better.”
Edelheit said she has younger children who will be attending Twinsburg High School someday and said she wants to ensure it’s a safe place for them and other people’s children.
“The adults have failed to make a change so the kids are now taking a stand,” Edgerson said. “I hope the tide can turn. I hope something positive comes out of this.”
Residents Michael Turle and Sally Gaydosh, along with assistance from the Twinsburg Historical Society, were able to secure the school bell from the Old School, the city's first centralized school that was torn down late last year, for the demonstration.
"In hopes they never ring this bell again," Turle captioned on Twinsburg Roundtable, a community-driven Facebook site.
Reporter Ellin Walsh can be reached at 330-541-9419, firstname.lastname@example.org or @EllinWalsh_RPC.