By Moriah Seymann (‘19)
Wednesday, March 14, was not a typical day at school. At 10:00 AM, hundreds of San Diego Jewish Academy students silently stood up, walked out of the gym, and headed toward the blacktop by the school buses. For five minutes no student made a sound as they respectfully remembered the victims of the school shooting in Parkland Florida on February 14, 2018.
SDJA was not the only school to honor these victims. In fact, students across the country participated in a walkout protesting gun violence and commemorated the 17 students who died in the Florida Shooting. San Diego Jewish Academy ASB honored each of these victims at an assembly, reading about each victim and lighting a candle in their honor. Following this memorial, students had the option to participate in the walkout.
After standing for a few moments of reverence, students decided the time had come to take a stand for a change. Every student had the opportunity to write a letter to Congress or the president. Many students, like Geena Benson (‘21) took part in this, “It felt good to have a voice,” she said after composing a letter to president Donald Trump. “I got to express what I was feeling and stop this from ever happening again.” Echoing this sentiment Madeline Ramirez (‘21) said, “Kids need to support each other and be there for each other in times of need.”
“Stay strong,” “keep fighting,” “never again,” are just a few of the supportive messages San Diego Jewish Academy students wrote on a big card they signed for the students in Parkland, Florida. Alexis Lavis (‘21) says, “it was important to support people my age and fight to help the future of my community.”
Even though most students attended this event, a few chose not to attend. Ori Hammond (‘19) said he opted out because he felt that “walking out wouldn’t stop gun violence on any campus.” Josh Barfarough (‘10) agreed; “I didn’t go because I didn’t think it would help gun violence in any way.” Josh Nachassi (‘19) also opted out, but for a different reason. “I think everyone should have the right to bear arms,” says Nachassi.
However, students like Geena Benson (‘21), who attended the walkout, described it as “a powerful experience” because she got to make a small change and stand up for what she believes. SDJA values Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and the many students at this school who attended the walkout understood the importance of supporting Florida. Lavis also left the walkout feeling empowered. She says, “It was very powerful and strengthening to know that I was part of something that helps my peers in Florida.”