Camas, WA — Adult administrators, teachers, and observers stood quietly as approximately 500 students walked out of class at Camas High School Wednesday at 10 am to honor the victims of last month’s senseless Marjory Stoneman Douglas shootings in Parkland, Florida.
The student-led Camas walkout was a peaceful one, organized by Papermakers Abigail Jiang and Monica Chang, to call for common sense gun law reform, kindness, peace, and a better tomorrow. It was part of the national #NeverAgain movement, which has been criticized for having a political agenda — but this event was barely political. It was a moving tribute to innocence lost, and a clarion call for kindness to each other. It was a moving tribute filled with respect.
Adults in the audience simply observed — allowing the students to speak and pay their respects.
The students started filing out of the front door quietly, in an organized and somber way, and then listened to 20 minutes of personalized tributes to the 17 victims at Douglas High School.
There was a call for gun law reform at the beginning, and the student leaders asked for the students to sign a letter to Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler calling for action on several items.
A moment of silence.
”We call for common sense gun reform that will help ensure that a mass shooting like this never happens again,” said Jiang, in the walkout opening statement. “Enough is enough, and as students we demand tangible action to ensure our safety in school. Although some of us may not be of voting age, we have a voice in our community, in our nation. This is a chance for our generation to speak up. Today, one month after the horrific events at Parkland we will be honoring and remembering the 17 victims of this shooting by talking about their lives and giving them each a moment of silence.”
The walkout leaders then read touching tributes about each of the following victims (not necessarily in this order):
- Alaina Petty, 14;
- Alex Schaffer, 14;
- Alyssa Alhadeff, 14;
- Cara Loughran, 14;
- Gina Montalto, 14;
- Jaime Gutenberg, 14;
- Martin Duque Anguiano, 14;
- Luke Hoyer, 15;
- Peter Wang, 15;
- Carmen Schentrup, 16;
- Helena Ramsay, 17;
- Joaquin Oliver, 17;
- Nicholas Dworet, 17;
- Meadow Pollack, 18;
- Scott Beigel, 35;
- Aaron Feis, 37;
- Chris Hixon, 49
Peaceful assembly. Photo by Blake Schnell.
Some of the Tributes
“Joaquin Oliver had just become a US citizen in 2017. He loved sports of all kinds and was a huge fan of the Venezuelan national soccer team and loved basketball and football. Joaquin was a big fan of Dwayne Wade. He was buried in Dwayne Wade’s jersey. He loved urban graffiti and listened to hip-hop music.”
“Meadow Pollack, 18, was a student excited for the future, planning to attend Wynn University in the Fall, she was loving and kind — her family calling her the light of their lives. She was motivated to achieve great things, and would have achieved so much.”
”Aaron Feis, 37 years old, was an assistant football coach at Stoneman Douglas. He threw himself in front of a group of students to protect them during the shooting. He died after being rushed into surgery for a gunshot wound. Students always saw that Feis put himself second, and he died this way, too. As a hero …”
“Peter Wang, 15 years old, was a student at Stoneman Douglas. He was a member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Program at the high school. On the day of the shooting, Peter was in his ROTC uniform and did not run. But held open a door to help others escape. He was shot while doing so.”
Ryan and Kelly Petty, the parents of Alaina Petty, sent a statement about their daughter, which was read by Jiang at the conclusion of the tributes.
“We ask that you honor her memory by taking a moment each day to say hello to someone you don’t know, by doing something kind for someone who you think may least deserve it, and to lift those around you with kind words.”
A long moment of silence ensued.
”Everyone just feels like enough is enough,” said Chang. “So, this walkout is a national walkout. We got together and organized things individually because we felt we had to do something. We finally united.”
Students behaved very respectfully during the walkout, and when it was done they quietly went back to their classrooms. The leaders promised to WALK UP after the walkout to reach out to students who feel isolated, marginalized, or just a need an emotional lift.
”That was a moving event,” said CHS math teacher, Alisa Wise. “We do have a bright future.”
Camas is a the center of a national #MSDKindness, which started with our current #MarchKindness campaign. We ask that you visit www.msdkindness.com to learn how you can help.
Photos by Blake Schnell
During a moment of silence at Wednesday’s Camas WalkOut.
Tears filled many eyes.
Honoring the victims.
Moments of silence filled the 20-minute assembly.
A peaceful assembly.
Waving the flag while honoring the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting.