Seventeen red, white, and pink tulips lined the edge of the Orcas Island Middle School courtyard concrete wall on March 14, one month after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. At 10 am, approximately 300 people of all ages surrounded the school courtyard. Some held flowers, and others held signs reading “how many more?” “#enough,” “think teens,” and “who’s next?” Candles were handed out to 17 students who stood on the concrete wall in silence. Behind them stood two students: Haley Moss and Henry Moe.
The candles were lit, and Haley Moss began the 17 minute walkout by summarizing the Parkland shooting and asking the students and community members to remove their hats as they took 17 seconds of silence in remembrance of the lives lost. Henry Moe then read the names of the victims of the Parkland shooting, each separated by 17 seconds of silence.
Levi Moss read the names of over 200 school shootings since Columbine in 1999. While listening to this list, a respected silence was held across the entire courtyard. Margot Van Gelder then read a poem from an anonymous author in response to the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012. From 10 to 10:17, the only speakers stood on the concrete platform.
The walkout concluded with Haley Moss “begging” all to continue to fight for change and encouraging the students and community members to “speak loudly, stand strong, and always stand up for what you believe in.” Moe asked all to also walk together on March 24 to stand up for gun violence in schools.
The candles were blown out, and the students walked back to the school in complete silence. “Being able to stand in solidarity with individuals all across the country for one cause is really powerful,” Haley Moss stated in response to the walkout. “It was important to us to honor all of the victims who lost their lives, and to take action so that this doesn’t happen again. Students should not be afraid to learn, and teachers should not be afraid to teach. I am beyond grateful for the support from the community, school, and students who agree that we have the right to an education free of fear.”