Local students joining nationwide silent protest

Students in Juneau will be displaying an act of unity with the rest of the nation as part of a planned student walkout March 14.

In a nationwide student-led effort about gun-control and violence, Juneau-Douglas High School and Thunder Mountain High School will be participating in the walkout. Starting at 10 a.m. students will stand in solidarity and silence for 17 minutes honoring the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Sophomore Katie McKenna, 15, Junior Peter Sidmore, 16, freshman Forrest Davis, 14, sophomore Stella Tallmon, 15, freshman Linnea Lentfer, 14, sophomore Sierra Lloyd, 15 and senior Theo Houck, 17, are leading the movement at JDHS. They said they believe now is the time students need to be heard.

“We want people to know that even though we are young, we are articulate and we should be taken seriously,” McKenna said.

Houck said one the concerns students have is being desensitized to shootings.

“We have these drills and we are used to doing them,” Houck said. “I heard an interview with a student at Stoneman Douglas who said even after he went home, it just felt like a drill.”

JDHS students will march to the Alaska State Capitol where some students will speak and proceed to lie down outside of the Capitol in honor of the victims. Adults wanting to participate in the JDHS walkout are asked to gather at Cope Park and join students after they walk by in the back of the march. Parents are encouraged to join the students at the Capitol but will remain behind the student group.

At Thunder Mountain, adults are also encouraged to meet the students outside as they walk out. They are also asked to stay on the outer edges of the group.

Thunder Mountain senior Kathy Tran, 18, said her school’s walkout is a way to bring students together as one voice.

“This is about empowering students,” Tran said. “Whether it’s banning together in a rally, calling your representatives or making a statement on public media, this is about coming together. Something is wrong and schoolhouses should not feel like they are unsafe.”

While a celebrated idea, there has been some backlash in parts of the U.S. and some students and staff have been threatened with punishment if they participate. In February, students at Yaakoosge Daakahidi Alternative High School faced consequences — which they were aware of — for their walkout during school hours.

The Juneau School District released a statement regarding their stance on this walkout, saying that as long as students follow protocol, they will not be punished. The high schools shared this information with staff, students, parents and faculty. Each school operates a bit differently, so the district customized statements to fit each school’s circumstances.

“Schools and classes will continue on their normal schedule,” the statement reads in part. “If you want to excuse your child from class to allow them to participate, please contact your school’s attendance office. Absences that are not excused by a parent will be treated as unexcused and normal consequences will apply.”

The statement also states “Staff members will not participate in walkouts or protests in the course of their work, and will remain neutral on issues that are political in nature in the presence of students.”

The students agreed even if there were consequences for the walkout, it would not nearly match what could happen.

“Either we march and get some sort of punishment,” Houck said. “Or we risk the chance of having a school shooting.”

The students also believe this goes beyond a political matter.

“This is not a Democrat or a Republican stance,” Lentfer said. “This is about fundamental school safety.”

The students also hope the event goes beyond having just a one-day impact.

“We want this to just be the start of the conversation (on gun control),” Lloyd said. “This should be something that gets people talking.”

“This should be a wake-up call that we have a voice,” Tallmon said. “We are the next generation and we are not afraid to step up.”


• Contact reporter Gregory Philson at gphilson@juneauempire.com or call at 523-2265. Follow him on Twitter at @GTPhilson.


More in News

In this Empire file photo, a Princess Cruise Line ship is seen docked in Juneau on Aug. 25, 2021.(Michael Lockett / Juneau Empire file)
Ships in Port for the week of May 15, 2022

This information comes from the Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska’s 2022 schedule.… Continue reading

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Thursday, May 19, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 18, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Teaser
Judge orders board adopt interim redistricting map

The decision comes in a second round of redistricting challenges.

Smoke and steam rise from a coal processing plant in Hejin in central China’s Shanxi Province on Nov. 28, 2019. A study released on Tuesday, May 17, 2022, blames pollution of all types for 9 million deaths a year globally, with the death toll attributed to dirty air from cars, trucks and industry rising 55% since 2000. (AP Photo / Sam McNeil File)
Study finds global pollution kills 9 million people a year, study finds

Overall pollution deaths in 2019 were about the same as 2015, according to the study.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Tuesday, May 17, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

In this October 2019 photo, Zac Watt, beertender for Forbidden Peak Brewery, pours a beer during the grand opening for the Auke Bay business in October 2019. Alcoholic beverage manufacturers and dispensers recently came to an agreement  on a bill that could bring live music and extended hours to breweries. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Of the more than 460 stoOf the more than 460 stocks managed by NOAA, 322 have a known overfishing status (296 not subject to overfishing and 26 subject to overfishing) and 252 have a known overfished status (201 not overfished and 51 overfished). (Courtesy Image / NOAA)
Southeast fisheries hoping for less turbulent waters

Regions and species see wildly variably conditions due to climate and COVID-19, according to two new NOAA reports.

It's a police car until you look closely and see the details don't quite match. (Juneau Empire File / Michael Penn)
Police calls for Saturday, May 14, 2022

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read