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Students and Staff Walk Out to End Gun Violence

School safety issue strikes home with March 13 threat called to BMS; Beachwood students attend March 24 rally

Freshman+Rachel+Cohen+displays+the+sign+she+made+for+the+March+14+walkout.+Photo+by+Carrington+Peavy
Freshman Rachel Cohen displays the sign she made for the March 14 walkout. Photo by Carrington Peavy

Freshman Rachel Cohen displays the sign she made for the March 14 walkout. Photo by Carrington Peavy

Freshman Rachel Cohen displays the sign she made for the March 14 walkout. Photo by Carrington Peavy

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Beachwood students from the high school and middle school joined students across the country on Wednesday, March 14 in a walkout to raise awareness for victims of gun violence.

The walkout was motivated in particular by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on Feb. 14, and by the proliferation of guns and gun violence in the United
States.

“It was a good way to get our voices out and prove that students across the nation don’t agree with current gun laws.” junior Scott Newkirk said.

“It was really moving and will [hopefully] catch the attention of the government,” junior Matthew Hardy said.

The walkout lasted 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost. Students and staff who attended were silent for 17 seconds, and 17 helium-filled balloons were launched into the air.

In spite of severe weather, a large crowd gathered by the stadium and remained until the protest was over.

Many expressed particular concern about the Feb. 14 incident in Parkland, Florida, by the perpetrator’s access to guns, and by the way that it was handled by officials.

Beachwood school officials supported the walkout, which was incorporated into the day’s schedule.

C.J. Piro, Beachwood Police Officer and Director of Security for Beachwood Schools, and Assistant Principal Ryan Patti both supported the walkout, and expressed concern about the Parkland shooting.

“It’s everyone’s worst nightmare,” Piro said.

“Police officers run drills every day to prepare for attacks like these for a reason,” Assistant Principal Ryan Patti said.

Several students traveled to Washington D.C. for the March For Our Lives held March 24. Others attended the march in Cleveland on the same day. Sophomore Joe Spero was among those who traveled to Washington.
“It was so inspiring, and I had an amazing time listening to the amazing speakers from all over the nation,” Spero wrote in a text message.“…from South Los Angeles, California to Parkland, Florida to Chicago, Illinois it was incredible to see [hundreds of thousands] of people fighting for what needs to be done in this country when it comes to gun control and ending the slaughter of students and people of America.” Photo courtesy of Joe Spero

Many students and staff are concerned about the proliferation of guns.

“Gun control is an issue right now, and having stricter policies would decrease the chance of school shootings,” junior Ryan Jaffe said.

“It should definitely be tougher to obtain assault rifles,” Piro said. “Assault rifles are for military use to defend our country.

They’re meant to kill people; bullets travel further and inflict more damage. There are very few purposes of having assault rifles if you’re not in the military.”

We shouldn’t be worried to have to come to school and get an education, but that’s the world we live in.”

— Senior Noah Appel

March 13 Threat at Middle School
The focus on school safety was very relevant to Beachwood students. The day prior, there had been a threat called to the middle school.

BHS students were put on lockdown for first period, and middle school students were bussed to the high school until the middle school had been thoroughly checked by police.

“At about 7:30 at academy before school started on Tuesday, everyone was rushed to their first period class frantically and everyone was very confused,” sophomore Ari Sokol said.

“We shouldn’t be worried to have to come to school and get an education, but that’s the world we live in,” senior Noah Appel said.

Beachwood Superintendent Dr. Bob Hardis wrote an email to Beachwood families later that day.
“The Beachwood Police Department has made substantial progress in their investigation of this morning’s vague threat called in to Beachwood Middle School. The person who made the threat appears likely to be one of our students. That student will not be allowed at school until the investigation is concluded.”

“Some information indicates the student believed the app used to phone in the threat would block the identity of its user,” Hardis added.

“Law enforcement was still able to trace that communication. We can now say it is doubtful there was ever a credible threat to our students. We took actions to ensure their safety with the best information we had at the time, however.”

 

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Students and Staff Walk Out to End Gun Violence