Students from both the High School and the Junior High left campus to rally nearby. [Photo by Kym Kemp]
One month ago, on Valentine’s Day, 17 students and teachers died in a mass killing in Parkland, Florida. Yesterday, students across the nation walked out of class and held numerous rallies, marches, and commemorations. Each gathering had its own flavor–its own take on what the students at the event hoped to accomplish. In Southern Humboldt, around 100 students and 30 or so adults gathered near the South Fork High School campus at 10 a.m.
Students gathered and stood silently. Marian Del Rio held a sign with the names of the 17 people killed in Florida a month ago in a school shooting. [Photo by Malachi Church]
After students poured into an empty area beside Sips Coffee in the small town of Miranda, former Southern Humboldt School Superintendent Clif Anderson spoke about those killed in the Parkland massacre. “Their hopes and dreams are honored by your hopes and dreams,” he said.
Clif Anderson speaking to the crowd. [Photo by Malachi Church]
Then, for 17 minutes the students stood quietly. Notably, this reporter, and former teacher, watched what appeared to be over 100 students stand in silence for the entire time.
Young students standing quietly during 17 minutes of silence. [Photo by Kym Kemp]
Only one student glanced at his phone and one quietly mouthed a few words to someone next to him. The click of my camera seemed disrespectful in the hush.
Wearing black or rainbow tie-dye, the students appeared to think deeply about the deaths which may have occurred across the nation but affected them nonetheless. [Photo by Kym Kemp]
After the silence, one of the organizers, 14-year-old Nathan Baffert, a sophomore at South Fork High, thanked the assembled students. “This is how we get change,” he said. “We are the ones who make it happen.”
14-year-old Nathan Baffert, a sophomore at South Fork High, addresses the students. [Photo by Malachi Church]
Though the student-led movement for gun control legislation that rolled out across the nation in response to the Florida mass shooting led to these walkouts across the nation, only one small sign at the Miranda rally pushed for anything similar. Most students just asked for change in some form to protect them from violence in the schools.
One student, Lily Loomis, pushed back against those who say that protests like these don’t help. She said that rallies like this “show people we care.” She noted that “if everyone felt like this no change would happen.” She pointed out that if 17 deaths happened at South Fork that would be almost 10% of the students.
Another student, Mirna Navarrete, when asked why she had attended the gathering said, “We shouldn’t be afraid to go to school.” She added that the students who had died a month earlier “deserved better” than their terrible deaths.
Though most students didn’t have specific recommendations for change, Sendi Alatorre said that “too many people have access to guns.”
Another student, Viviane Noll, age 15, wasn’t sure that gun control was the answer, “but we need change,” she insisted.
Earlier Chapter: ‘We Want Nothing to Ever Happen Like This Again,’ Say South Fork Students Who Call for Walkout Tomorrow