As part of the national movement to honor the Parkland victims and express solidarity with those affected by gun violence, Head-Royce students, teachers, and administrators gathered together at 10 a.m. on March 14 to observe 17 minutes of silence for the 17 people who lost their lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. At the top of every minute of silence, a victim’s name was broadcasted over a loudspeaker, creating a poignant opportunity for focused reflection on the vibrant young lives lost on February 14, and to ponder the magnitude of the gun violence problem in the US. Following the reading of the names, students were given the option to share any thoughts with the assembled group.
“Never again can we let children with guns kill children with pens,” an upper school student implored.
Some students opted to share poetry and written thoughts; others urged their peers to work towards ending gun violence through activism.
Another student echoed the need for change and encouraged her peers to not allow their voices to be silenced, but to instead work with policymakers to keep this critical issue at the forefront of civic discourse.
“As a school, we are committed to supporting our students who wish to share their convictions and their compassion for the victims of senseless gun violence wherever it may occur,” Middle and Upper School Heads Linda Hoopes and Carl Thiermann shared in a joint statement. “Students have been leading the process of planning for the 14th and we have been impressed with their thoughtful suggestions and ideas for a meaningful civic experience."
Following the large assembly, students had a chance to further process and reflect upon the day’s events. Activities included a workshop facilitated by youth advocate Ashanti Branch and a time for quiet reflection and self-expression through art in the HRS Center for Community Engagement.
In the middle school, 7th and 8th graders had the opportunity to debrief in their life skills classes, while 6th graders had follow-up discussions in their homerooms and explored proactive measures to channel their feelings into action.
“It was nice that Head-Royce gave us the chance to think about everyone who passed away from the shooting. It made me aware of the reality a lot more because when I hear it on the news, I don’t really think about it too much. But, once you actually have time to think about it, it gets to you more,” Lilyana S. ’24 said.
Students in the 4th and 5th grades also had the opportunity to advocate in meaningful ways. The 4th grade class worked together to create a symbolic spider web form that emphasized the importance of community and enabled them to experience first-hand how they are connected to one another.
Fifth graders made posters featuring messages of support and gathered on the playcourts in the shape of a 17, as a bell rang 17 times to honor each of the victims in Parkland.
This Saturday, March 24, the March for Our Lives will take place in Washington, D.C. with a local counterpart march taking place in Oakland. Head-Royce upper school students plan to have a presence and intend to keep this important conversation at the fore.
Bird's Eye View is a story series highlighting our work towards the initiatives and goals laid out in our Strategic Plan: Bridge to 2022.