Students from the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area took part in events ranging from brief walkouts to solemn observances Wednesday addressing the issue of gun violence in schools.
It was all part of a national effort, planned one month after the Feb. 14 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida in which 17 persons – 14 of them students – were killed by a lone gunman.
In the Garden Grove Unified School District, which serves most of Garden Grove, as well as portions of Anaheim, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Santa Ana, Stanton and Westminster, at least a half-dozen observances were held on campuses. According to Abby Milone, public information officer for the GGUSD, they included:
- Alamitos Intermediate: There was a student-led announcement at the start of the day about the idea of “March Up to thank a teacher, March Up to make a new friend.” It was also announced that interested students could come in at break and write a letter to the staff and/or families of the Florida victims and they would be sent to the school.” There was a 17-second moment of silence at10 a.m. to honor the victims.
- Bell Intermediate: Principal M’Liss Patterson read a statement over the intercom, and announced a “Be Fearless Be Kind” pledge on behalf of the victims of the Florida shooting. Students had a 17-second moment of silence and made various pledges finishing the sentence … I Stand Up For.
- Bolsa Grande High: There was a 17- minute student-led Remembrance Forum with a moment of silence, remembrance of victims and poetry delivered by students.
- Fitz Intermediate: A 17-minute Student Safety Session to honor the lives lost in Florida with a moment of silence and a question and answer session about school safety with the principal and students was held.
- Garden Grove High: A student-organized event hosted in the Michael A. Monsoor Stadium from9:55 a.m. – 10:18 a.m. featured a student statement about each of the 17 victims with photos, a student speech about unity, student-led invitation for voter registration at lunch and an after-school letter writing forum, a song by the chorus, and a moment of silence
- Hare (Continuation) High: The student body president read a script over the intercom and then all students and staff observed three minutes of silence in their classes to honor the victims. In the script, all 17 victims were named. Simultaneously, student body officers held out the letters spelling #NEVER AGAIN on the grass quad. The student-led activity lasted five minutes.
In the Huntington Beach Union High School District, which serves Huntington Beach as well as most of Westminster and Fountain Valley, two schools – Huntington Beach High and Ocean View High – experienced walkouts, according to Cheryl D. McKenzie, public information coordinator for the HBUHSD.
She added, in a statement, “In accordance with state law, we will not discipline students solely for expressing their First Amendment rights. However, we did encourage our teachers and staff to inform students that if they left class or campus without permission, they would likely be marked tardy or absent/truant.”