Chesterton Tribune



CHS students hold memorial for Parkland school shooting victims today

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To call it a protest or demonstration would be to sully its dignity.

It was, instead, a memorial service, a cry from the heart of children grieving and fearful.

There was no mention of gun laws or gun control, no call at all for specific political action, only a plea to stand together to end the violence.

At 10 a.m. today several hundred students at Chesterton High School left their classes, filed out the doors of the main entrance, and gathered by the flagpole, to remember and honor the 17 shot to death exactly one month ago at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

There--while 15 or so citizens watched form the sidewalk opposite--sophomore Sid Augustyn delivered these words:

“One month ago today, Nikolas Cruz stormed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, armed with an AR-15-style rifle, and massacred 17 students and faculty members. We all witnessed the news footage of students fleeing the terror, single file, hands behind their heads with SWAT teams beside them. We witnessed their tears afterwards as mothers embraced their children, but sadly today we remember those who will never feel their mothers’ arms again.

“Today Parkland is another name on the list of deadly mass shootings. These names come one right after another--Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech--and now we add Parkland. The time has come to stop adding names to this list and say Never Again. No matter what political affiliation you have, and no matter what you think the solution is, we can all agree that we cannot stand idly by while these massacres continue within our nation’s schools, or anywhere.

“By participating in this walk-out today, we are taking a stand together, in solidarity, to say that the lives lost are not forgotten. They meant something. They meant love to their families. They meant laughter to their friends. They were athletes on teams. They were dancers on the stage. They were scholars with promising college careers and future families of their own. They were coaches on the field, and teachers in classrooms, and real people like us. So their lives should mean something to us as well.

“By walking out here today, we prove that their legacy will live on. The world is watching us. No matter what you believe, on either side of the political aisle, stand up for what you believe in. If more people were vocal and active like we are today, the world would be a better place and we wouldn’t see the pain of these school massacres like the one we stand in recognition of today. As the students of Chesterton High School, and the students of America, we are the future and we hold the power to make a change.”

The students then stood in silence for 17 minutes, 17 of them holding a poster with the name and photograph of a victim:

* Peter Wang, 15.

* Carmen Schentrup, 16.

* Alexander Schachter, 14.

* Helena Ramsay, 17.

* Meadow Pollack, 18.

* Alaina Petty, 14.

* Joaquin Oliver, 17.

* Gina Montalto, 14.

* Cara Loughran, 14.

* Luke Hoyer, 15.

* Christopher Hixon, 49.

* Jaime Guttenberg, 14.

* Aaron Feis, 37.

* Nicholas Dworet, 17.

* Martin Duque Anguiano, 14.

* Scott Beigel, 35.

* Alyssa Alhadeff, 14.

At 10:23 a.m. the students quietly re-entered the building.

“I’m just so proud of every single one of them, just so proud,” mother Kelly Hennings told the Chesterton Tribune. “I’m crying here. I’m digging my nails into my hands trying not to. I don’t want them to be afraid. They believe in this. They’re going to make change. They’re just amazing.”

“I saw greatness today,” Henning added.

“I’m here to support the students,” said Chesterton resident George Stone, not a parent. “As an old Chicagoan, I sometimes wonder about the involvement of Hoosiers. But here they are. I’m very proud of them.”

CHS history teacher Bob DeRuntz had this to say about the walk-out: “We have a great student body at CHS. I know they want action not only to support the families in Florida but also to start a conversation that changes the status quo. Instead of talking at each other, our students want meaningful conversation where we talk to and listen to each other. They want reasonable solutions to gun violence and improved school safety. If our aim is to send our students into the world with strong voices then we need to be willing to listen to their voices.”

The walk-out was organized by Augustyn and seniors Ryan Day, Evan Little, Andrew Smenyak, Hannah Mullin, Brinley Fowler, and Katelyn Balakir.


Posted 3/14/2018




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