For 17 minutes on Thursday March 15, Middle School students left their classrooms to let their voices be heard in the wake of the tragic shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. As students from both seventh and eighth grades gathered in the courtyard next to the Middle School entrance, three seventh graders spoke to the assemblage before leading a chant and observing five minutes of silence for the victims of the horrific shooting.
The student-led and organized initiative saw Angelina Teig ’23, Elsie Salkever ’23, and Sanisha Mahendra-Rajah ’23 take turns on a megaphone before their peers. The three girls focused their remarks on gun control, and the importance of realizing how one’s own voice can make a difference. “No student should be scared to go to school,” Teig opened with in her speech, a sentiment that echoed through in all of the words spoken that afternoon.
Salkever also felt the need to take action, noting in her address: “Today we have been given a chance to use our voice and speak out against gun violence and laws…. By walking out today, we are refusing to be silenced and demanding that our voices be heard.”
The walkout came on the heels of many similar nation-wide school protests, with the hope that BB&N Middle Schoolers would have their opportunity to add to the discourse that has engulfed the American landscape.
When hearing that many schools would be staging walkouts, Teig and Salkever jumped on the momentum last month and approached Middle School Director Mary Dolbear about their intent to organize a protest at BB&N.
“I started to realize how important this issue is when I heard and saw the reactions of the Stoneman Douglas students,” Teig says. “They were so passionate, it really inspired me.”
Through numerous discussions, the two seventh graders created a committee of fellow students (Sanisha Mahendra-Rajah ’23, Avery Rubins ’23, Anjali Reddy ’23, and Meira Wang ’23) to spearhead the efforts. Rubber bracelets were produced and handed out to signify solidarity amongst the student body, and logistics and speeches were framed.
“This all came from the students, it was their hard work and determination that made this happen,” Dolbear says. “It’s so important for them to feel a part of something larger and have their voices matter.”
As part of the effort, Salkever also built a website to support the walkout, featuring a video created by Teig. Warning: This website contains content that may make some viewers uncomfortable: BB&N Middle School Walkout
Similar protests were planned for the Lower and Upper Schools, but were unable to occur due to the snow day on the original Wednesday 14 date.