Kindness at heart of Palmer High walkout
Joining with schools around the country, students at Palmer High School organized a walkout to remember the 17 people killed in last month's Parkland, Fla. mass shooting.
About 75 kids left their 4th period classrooms at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday and rallied around the school flagpole.
“We don’t feel safe in schools any more and we want something to change to make us feel safer," said senior Madison Reid, who co-organized the event.
Co-organizer Anna Miller, a junior at the school, said the walkout was also to raise awareness about being kind to one another before students threaten or harm others.
“Most of the things that push them to do this are bullying and what we’d really like to push is kindness, compassion, love in our hallway,” Miller said. “When you’re walking down the hall, a smile can save a life for many.”
After a moment of silence, the students were urged to get to know their peers. They introduced themselves to classmates they’d never met, shook hands and even hugged.
“What do you like to do for fun?” Madison asked a classmate.
“Play sports, football,” he responded, adding he joined the walkout to show respect for the Florida students who lost their lives.
Two Palmer police officers were at the walkout, along with Mat-Su Borough School District Superintendent Monica Goyette.
Goyette said the students worked with their principal and the district to make sure the walkout wasn’t disruptive to those who didn’t want to participate.
“I consider this part of the learning day," Goyette said. "We teach students about their civic responsibilities, about how to engage in public debate, and I think today was a wonderful, positive example of kids coming out and expressing their views."
Goyette also talked to teens about why they wanted to join the protest.
“To meet new people and spread compassion, because I’m very gated, so it’s hard for me to open up to other people,” one girl told the superintendent.
Contrary to posts going around on social media, the walkout was not in support of gun control and didn’t have anything to do with protesting firearms.
“We knew that if we stood on one side of an extreme opinion that’s only going to push people away and set up guards. So our point is to encourage the community to talk and start a conversation about what we can do for our students,” Reid said.
The group returned to class after 17 minutes, the walkout lasting one minute for each person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
Goyette said similar walkouts happened Wednesday at Colony High and Career and Tech. Susitna Valley High held one on Tuesday.
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