DALLAS TWP. — To lose 17 lives seems insurmountable.
Never again, Dallas High School senior Madalyn Arthur told classmates Wednesday during National School Walkout Day.
Arthur’s voice was shaky with emotion as she referenced the 17 students killed in the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a month ago.
“I have three nieces and nephews and I want to see a world that this does not happen,” Arthur said after the rally. “They are scattered around the country and I can’t imagine not being able to see and hug them again.”
Dallas was one of over 3,000 schools across the country to participate in the event
The protest required students to walk out of classes at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, a minute to honor each student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School killed in the February shooting, according to Women’s March Youth Empower, an online group which promoted the event organization.
Nearly 300 Dallas High School students left classes and walked out to the football stadium where 17 red roses were laid in the snow.
Arthur and Andrew Francis, both members of the Peer Helpers Organization that organized the event, shared words to promote legislation change.
“Children go to school in fear every day. Parents dread that they are going to get the call that their child was another victim of gun violence,” Francis said. “We are demanding change because this needs to change. School is supposed to be a safe place for learning and talking with friends.”
“We demand change whether that comes in the form of gun control laws, mental health counseling, school safety, or funding for education,” Francis said.
The protest attendees also had an opportunity to voice their concerns about the increase in gun violence.
Some of the thoughts students shared included
• the right to own a firearm shouldn’t outweigh the right to live;
• make an active change; and
• lives matter and students should feel safe.
“People are mad and upset,” Francis said after the protest.
Word about the event spread throughout the student population via Twitter and by word of mouth, Francis said, adding he was surprised by the large student turnout.
Students did alert district administrators of their intent to participate in the National School Walkout Day, Dallas School District Superintendent Thomas Duffy said. Students were advised to hold the protest in the school’s football stadium to ensure safety for participants, he said.
“If students come forth in an organized, productive way, we will support them,” Duffy said and called the protest “respectable.”
Dallas Middle School students were also encouraged to voice their support by wearing orange on Wednesday, Duffy said.
“The middle school held an assembly yesterday (Tuesday) to observe the national protest,” he said.
Officials from the Lake-Lehman Junior-Senior High School did not respond to phone calls regarding its students’ participation in the national protest.
Reach Eileen Godin at 570-991-6387 or on Twitter @TLNews.