CHS junior leading ‘large and powerful’ walkout next Wednesday

CHS junior leading ‘large and powerful’ walkout next Wednesday

CUMBERLAND – Cumberland High School student Emily Lamoureux and many of her peers are planning to walk out of their classrooms next Wednesday, March 14, as part of a larger national movement to raise awareness about gun violence in schools.

“I want this to be a very large and powerful event,” says Lamoureux, a junior at CHS. She offered no estimate on how many students she thinks will walk out of school.

Lamoureux said she expected some pushback, but she’s received only positive reactions from students, teachers and staff. She said she has not heard of any students being threatened with detention or any other punishment for participating.

Students shouldn’t have to worry about getting gunned down while getting an education, Lamoureux said. CHS students understand eliminating all risk is impossible, but are focused on minimizing it and getting leaders to listen to them.

“We’re not going to sit back and watch children die,” she said.

CHS Principal Susan Cote deferred comment to Supt. Bob Mitchell.

Mitchell said administrators are aware of the planned event.

“We know that our students want their voices to be heard regarding school safety. We also know that some students are interested in doing something on March 14,” he said in a statement. “We are having conversations with them on how best to share their position on this important issue in a safe and respectful way. When we determine what approach we as a community will take, we will let you know.”

Lamoureux said she did some research when forming plans for the CHS walkout, taking cues from a toolkit provided by organizers of the national Women’s March.

Students met again over the past few days to brainstorm ideas, including carrying signs, giving speeches, and putting up posters on the walking bridge over Mendon Road honoring the 17 victims of a February school shooting in Florida.

The focus, she said, will be on memorializing the victims and bringing attention to what needs to change in the United States. The most efficient way of limiting risk is to eliminate guns, she said. The Second Amendment right to bear arms is important to maintain, she said, but there are common measures that can be taken, including restricting the purchase of assault-style rifles, limiting gun purchases to those older than 21, running thorough background checks, and conducting extensive screenings for mental illness.

“It’s about time that the government starts paying attention,” she said.

The goal is for a peaceful protest, and “every precautionary measure” will be taken, said Lamoureux. She and other organizers are expecting “certain people to act out,” but students will do everything they can to police themselves. The “90 percent” peaceful high schoolers should be able to limit the “10 percent” intent on “making this into a riot,” she said.

The March 14 walkout is set to happen during third period and last 17 minutes in recognition of the victims, said Lamoureux. Students are also anticipating five minutes each for entering and exiting the school, she said. Those minutes won’t count toward the 17 dedicated to the event.


Someone gets hurt? Who is liable?

Action is always a good thing. Change is a part of life, especially when the change is intended to save life and prevent violence.