The parent organizers of Ottawa Middle School’s National Student Walkout were impressed how students Wednesday morning embraced an opportunity to be heard.
OMS and Ottawa High School students, who had their walkout Wednesday afternoon, were part of more than 3,100 walkouts planned at schools nationwide, according to Women’s March Youth Empower, which organized the national event.
Dru Nichols, an organizer of the OMS event and father of a middle school daughter, said it was an impressive show of support for the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on the one-month anniversary of the tragedy.
“It is a wonderful event to keep the conversation moving,” Nichols said. “They all recognized what was going on. That is the power of it. You see hundreds and thousands of students out and about. We had a moment of silence. As we read the names off, they were quiet and respectful.”
Nichols said this was a great teaching lesson of civil obedience and civil duty.
“Those things are important,” he said. “They made a wonderful, intelligent and active statement. Hopefully, they will remember this day as they move forward and make future decisions about what goes on in school.”
He said the middle school students are the ones that made this event special.
“It was the parents that started the conversation and the kids continued it,” Nichols said. “We told our kids and they spread the word through the school. Being able to draw awareness, continue the conversation about changes we can make to protect our children. It is an issue of school safety.”
The middle school students walked out of class at 10 a.m. to the practice football field, which is adjacent to the school. They gathered around the organizers and were eagerly wanting to participate. Some wrote names of the victims on the balloons, while others volunteered to let them go.
Nichols told the students that the gathering was impressive.
“I want you to realize that all over the country right now there are hundreds and thousands of students doing exactly what you are doing across this entire country,” Nichols said.
“We are here to honor and remember 17 people that died one month ago today in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida. The other thing we are thinking about is your safety. This is a wonderful thing because there is safety in numbers. You guys are out here thinking about this issue which is safety in schools and guns and it is very impressive.
“You guys have an opportunity through your life to make changes and think about things,” he said. “As you grow up and think about safety in schools and your safety. You are going to be able to make changes. You will be able to vote people in power that will make changes, change laws across the country. The fact that you are out here right now, and thinking about this and recognizing what is going on, is wonderful. You should be very proud of yourselves.”