OSWEGO – Oswego High School students on Thursday added their voices to a chorus of student activism growing across the nation this week with a student-led, collaborative assembly and discussion where Buccaneers challenged each other to “walk up, not walk out.”
In the wake of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida that took 17 lives, emotion and passion from students has spurred protests and demonstrations but also conversation and dialogue.
A group of students, inspired by their peers but looking for an alternative to staging a school-wide walk-out, approached OHS Principal Patrick Wallace with an idea: bring the student body and administrators together to confront critical issues as collaborators, not adversaries.
“You’re here because you care about your school and you want to make your voices heard,” Wallace told the student at Thursday’s assembly. “It’s important for you, as students, to know that we, as adults, are here for you and we want you to use your voice.”
The assembly featured student speakers, as well as representatives from local law enforcement to provide information and perspective on school safety.
A moment of silence was observed with 17 bell tolls for the victims of the Parkland shooting.
Undersheriff Eugene Sullivan of the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department thanked students “for taking a stand instead of walking away” and urged them to take an active role in keeping their schools safe.
“Law enforcement personnel are always, constantly preparing for the things we hope we never see but when it comes to safety and security, you’re our eyes and ears, you have the pulse of what’s going on,” Sullivan said. “We, as cops, don’t have crystal balls. We don’t have superpowers. We count on you because we know you care about your community and your voice, your thoughts, your impressions and feelings – they matter.”
OHS Senior Emily Bradshaw spoke directly to her classmates and asked them to “stand together, not divided.”
“We’re asking you to walk up, not walk out,” Bradshaw said. “Walk up to that person who is sitting alone, walk up and compliment someone you don’t know very well, walk up and thank someone who has helped you. The world is scary and filled with a lot of hate so I challenge you to walk up.”