Hudson Valley Students Join National Gun Violence Protests

Region high school students are commemorating the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with walkouts, assemblies, and fundraisers.

At 10 a.m. local time Wednesday morning, students across America will walk out of their classrooms for precisely 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims of the Valentine’s Day mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The protest is designed to show lawmakers the number of young motivated voters seeking to reform national gun laws.

In Croton-on-Hudson, the walkout is being organized in large part by the senior class, and has received open support from the administration under Superintendent Edward R. Fuhrman, Jr., who says the district will be treating the walkout as “a teachable moment.” Croton-Harmon High School Principal Alan Capasso, in an email to parents and guardians, reaffirmed that the school would take no disciplinary action against peaceful demonstrations, and would be working with the Croton Police to increase security all day, and insuring that only students are allowed on campus.

Dante Mancinelli, Senior Class President at CHHS, says the event “will mostly be focused on honoring the lives of the students and teachers from Stoneman Douglas High School whose lives were taken in the shooting; it will also be a reflective time where the students of CHHS get to take a moment out of their regular lives to appreciate their own lives and safety while still mourning those in Parkland.”

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As to the political nature of the protest, Mancinelli says, “A couple students, and even myself will be giving speeches on the importance of change and what to do next. We will be discussing what we can be doing as a student body to make this into a movement rather than an event, to stoke this fire that’s been started instead of just sadly watching it go out.”

“We happen to be fortunate to live in a state and area with some of, if not the strictest gun laws and school safety regulations in the country. That being said, we, just like so many other students, would like to see federal change because honestly at this point, we need top-down change that will permanently end this from happening in our country.”

Similar walkouts are planned throughout the Hudson Valley, from Shrub Oak to Kingston, while other schools and districts have opted for alternative activities Wednesday: Yorktown High School will be holding a Stand Up for Kindness assembly and various learning stations set up throughout the school all day. Additionally, a separate group of Croton students have begun a GoFundMe campaign to raise the capital necessary to charter a bus down to the Washington, D.C. March for Our Lives on March 24.

Mancinelli minced no words in summing up the wave of activism rising amongst students across the county.

“An upstanding man once said ‘People want leaders who will meet their needs,’ and right now our leaders have been falling short … Come the state elections, the midterm elections, and the presidential election, be ready, because we’re through with our leaders not meeting our needs. We, the students, have the power to make change a reality and if you think we’re going to be ignored and let that opportunity pass, you’re wrong.  See you at the polls.”

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Check out photos of the Croton-Harmon High School walkout below!

Photos by Andrew Courtney

Parents and supporters congregated across the the street in solidarity with students.

Speaker Skylar Holzman

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Principal Capasso was visibly teary during the service, telling us, “I have never been more proud as a principal.”

Aidan Baker stands with a single flower, wearing his #NeverAgain shirt.

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