I Think the Walkout Mattered

My 3rd graders are in specials at 10:00 am so I was able to join students for the walkout yesterday. I didn’t have any idea what to expect in the way of whether or not students at our school would walkout or how they would do it, if they did.

I was a few minutes late (as specials begins at 10:00 am) so I walked across our field to stand with more than 50 fifth and sixth graders and a handful of other staff members. I had forgotten my coat and it was darn cold. But I looked at students without coats, one in short sleeves and figured I’d be fine.

I opted not to take any pictures of the walkout. It wasn’t my thing and I wanted to be respectful of these students. For seventeen minutes they stood outside in weather that was, with the wind chill, below freezing, without talking at all. A few held signs. Some were teary. I was impressed. And teary. I decided to take a short video of the sky to capture the quiet of these children and adults. Our school sits on a very busy road so cars and birds were most of what I heard during that seventeen minutes.

I have no idea if this national walkout will change anything. I do know that I stood outside, shivering, near those young people and was impressed. I was struck by the thought that these kids, at 11 or 12 or 13, were taking action. They were building a sense of themselves as someone who can take action, someone who can make change, someone who can be involved. I think that means these kids are more likely to vote in a few years, more likely to volunteer for political campaigns, more likely to write to their elected officials, more likely to run for office. That is worth a lot.

I feel this even more strongly because the great majority of the students at my school are first or second generation immigrants, many from Honduras or El Salvador. These are not children who are growing up seeing people who look like them in positions of power. For them to stand up, take a risk, and band together is beautiful in my eyes.

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