On Wednesday, March 14, at 10 a.m, Wilton High School students and staff will participate in a 17-minute walkout to honor the 17 victims of last month’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Not only will the walkout honor the Parkland victims, Wilton High School senior and walkout organizer Emily Kesselman told The Bulletin, but it will also “show a demand for change.”

The walkout is important, said Emily, “because so many students feel unsafe in their schools.”

“Whether we can vote or not, students are the future of this country and we deserve a voice. In the past, it seems as if the voices of teens have gone unheard by the ears of those in charge. It is important that we demonstrate a demand for our safety,” she said.

“In addition to the broader national implications of a school walkout, I believe that this is indicative of the civic responsibility that we as students and citizens have been instilled with throughout our lifetimes.”

Walkout participants are encouraged to wear orange, the color of solidarity against gun violence, and the event is limited to current students and staff.

Emily said the walkout is “by no means partisan or political,” but “merely a demonstration of our solidarity with those killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and our need for common-sense gun laws.”

Although the Wilton High School walkout “has been organized completely independently,” said Emily, and is “not directly affiliated” with any groups, thousands of schools nationwide will also be participating in walkouts on March 14 as part of the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER group’s #ENOUGH: National School Walkout initiative.

Schedule of events

At 9:50 that morning, Kesselman said, “students and teachers will leave class and walk out the main entrance of the school and gather at Lilly field at 10.

Each minute from 10 to 10:17, “the name of a victim at the Parkland shooting will be said over the speaker system,” she said.

Afterward, Emily said, “everyone will return back to their third-period class and resume their day regularly.”

Organization and planning

After Emily created a Facebook group for the event on Feb. 20, she said, fellow senior Julia Bonnist reached out and said she “wanted to help in any way,” and the two have been planning and organizing the walkout ever since.

“That same day, I emailed the administration and a few days later, they and the student government started working with me,” said Emily.

“I have also been in contact with other students in the country who are planning walkouts at their school and we have been sharing ideas.”

The walkout was first announced at the school the morning of March 1, followed by an email to students with information. Emily said the school administration has been made aware of the student-organized event and has been included in the planning.

The administration has “assured students and teachers that they will not be punished or marked absent if they participate,” said Emily, and Principal Robert O’Donnell will even be among those walking out the school on March 14.

Emily said the goal is to have between 500 and 800 of Wilton High School’s 1,331 students participate in the walkout. As of March 1, she said, 117 had RSVP’d.

Police will be present during the walkout and nonparticipating students whose teachers are participating in the walkout will report to the cafeteria for the duration of the event.