On Wednesday, March 14, as students at schools around the country participated in the National Walkout Day, many schools in Santa Clara participated as well. While one might expect such an event at a high school, it tends to be a little more unusual for middle school students because “they’re just kids.”
At Buchser Middle School in Santa Clara, seven students on the student council decided they wanted their school to participate. Sixth and seventh graders Sarah, Aileen, Lamiha, Asher, Maxine and Niya got their school involved with results that surprised them and the school administration.
Yet, unlike some Walkouts, the intent of the Buchser Walkout was to have a remembrance ceremony for the 17 people who lost their lives.
“When we were organizing it, we tried really hard to make it about the 17 people that lost their lives—not really about gun violence or gun safety and protesting. We weren’t protesting—it was a remembrance ceremony,” explained Lamiha.
Asher explained that instead of releasing balloons, “Every minute of the 17 minutes we said a name of one of the 17 victims, their age and if they were a teacher or a student.”
“I think it made it really powerful—it wasn’t just us talking. It was 17 minutes…so I think saying the names made it really very meaningful,” said Asher.
“It was kind of nerve wracking,” Maxine explained.
All of the organizers said they were surprised at the turnout since most expected, as Maxine explained, “It’s middle school and no one really cares.”
“There were a lot of people that we didn’t think would be there. We thought it would just be a couple of people, but the whole entire school went,” said Niya.
“I was really thankful so many people came out to show how they were feeling. It showed our voice was heard,” said Asher.
The impact of the event was explained in a message sent to Buchser parents by Principal Monica Stoffal, “I want to share a truly amazing moment… They (the students) understand what’s at stake. They understand much of what was lost. And above all else, they truly honored every single victim with the solemnity and dignity these precious lives deserve. Fear not…the future is in the growing hands of kind and capable young people.”
Based on the enthusiasm and understanding of what these seven students accomplished, it seems Principal Stoffal is correct.