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East Ridge High School Walk-In

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East Ridge High School Walk-In

Ysabel Maseda and Jacqueline Ohlrich

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Failures are not uncommon in the world, including in a high school; a failure for the East Ridge student body was the attempted walkout in late February. While this previous walkout had good intentions, one of the largest issues that arose was the fact that it was extremely unorganized. Therefore, Principal Lueallen, Administration, and the Student Government Association decided to build upon this with a newly organized walk-in. Yet, the walk-in was not a protest, nor was it focused on political activism. Instead, it was a memorial; it was about love and respect. Its purposes were to spread awareness toward the tragic event in Parkland and bring light to the issue of school safety.

The idea for this walk-in was thought up by Principal Lueallen, and she approached the other administrators with it before going to Elder Ripper, the President of the SGA, to help form it in its entirety. She wanted to give the students who had wanted to participate in a walkout something to help support Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Thus, the idea of walk-out became a memorial, a walk-in. At the first official U-Knighted meeting during FlexTime, Ripper explained the idea and the purpose behind it to the presidents of each club at East Ridge.

On Wednesday, March 14th, after 3rd Period, the announcement came for any students that wanted to participate to go to the courtyard where the demonstration was set up. This setup was created by the administration as well as clubs such as: SGA, DECA, the choir department, and many others. This also included the celebrated singer Mia Newton of Rhythm of the Knight singing, “Hallelujah.”

Seventeen desks with seventeen balloons attached to them were set up to commemorate the lives of students, teachers, and other faculty lost that day. After everyone found themselves situated in the courtyard, one would be able to see that on every desk was a name for each of the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. During that time, Ripper gave a compelling and heartfelt speech with several memorable quotes of inspiration for both East Ridge and Stoneman Douglas. The most compelling of his words were, “we stand to be heard,” “we stand united,” and “we stand as one knight” as the embodiment of the movement. Words have never been more genuine and empowering in this instance, as expressed by most students who were questioned about the walk-in. You could also feel the heart and sincerity in the voice of Ripper when he spoke, expressing emotions that are hard to put into words. Afterwards, Newton sang an emotional rendition of “Rise Up.”

Following the song, Principal Lueallen gave a speech about how the staff’s biggest priority at East Ridge High School is safety. This then led to the proposition of multiple FlexTime meetings with the administration to work with students and share ideas for the future. Principal Lueallen opened up a door to the students and teachers, hoping to maintain the sentiment of involvement. This helped contribute to the idea of the students’ voice and the need for its significance in society as a whole. Ripper expresses all of this when he said, “Youth, although lacking in traditional wisdom, provide fresh new interpretations of the world, and failing to capitalize on such a resource is simply blatantly negligent.”

Many people were moved by this ceremony, like Mrs. Santo, a geometry teacher, who was impressed that students could organize such a large event and take the issue seriously, all of which made it a powerful representation. Mrs. Santo states how she “was impressed by how the energy was able to be felt in the air,” and while she is not certain of its effect, in the long run, she hopes it will be impactful.

The tragic event that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas has now prompted questions like, “What if something like Parkland happened to East Ridge?” “Would people prepare?” “How could we prevent something like this in the first place?” All of these topics are things that administration wants to address during special meetings during FlexTime. These meetings are meant for any and all students of East Ridge who are interested in not only school safety, but also for those who want their voice to be heard. When asked to elaborate on it, Principal Lueallen mentioned how there would be two or three meetings in groups of thirty, and it would be the place to discuss the relevant issues in our school regarding safety.

 

Student Poll:

Did you participate in the walk-in?

  • Yes: 43
  • No: 3

Do you think the walk-in will be effective for safety in East Ridge?

  • Effective: 38
  • Not Effective: 5
  • Not Sure: 7
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East Ridge High School Walk-In