Bells Toll For The Parkland Dead

Students gathered at Roslyn High School for a peaceful protest against school violence.

The bells tolled for the 17 people, including high school students, killed in February at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL.

At 10 a.m., on Wednesday, March 14, a month after the incident, the students, staff and faculty at Roslyn High School gathered in the school’s gymnasium for a solemn, heartfelt and tearful ceremony.

During the 17-minute ceremony, selected students stood at the center of the basketball court. Once per minute, the name of a victim was recited, accompanied by the sound of a bell. The rest of the student body gathered in the grandstands, observing in silence. Afterwards, several hundred students held a peaceful but impassioned demonstration against school violence and in favor of measures to stop it.

At Roslyn Middle School, a similar ceremony was held. Several hundred students and staff members gathered for a 17-minute tribute to the victims. Also at the middle school, the Community Service Club there challenged students and faculty to be mindful of the things and people in our lives for which we are grateful. Throughout the entire district, faculty members wore orange clothes or ribbons to commemorate those who lost their lives.

The tribute at The Viscardi School

Students at The Viscardi School in Albertson also staged a brief walkout, to honor the Parkland victims and according to the school’s website, to “encourage change” in federal firearms laws.

On Long Island, students at numerous high schools, including North Shore, Glen Cove, Oceanside, South Side, Lawrence, West Melville, Baldwin, Lindenhurst, JFK-Bellmore, Wantagh, Valley Stream, Oyster Bay, Lynbrook and Rocky Point, staged events that were repeated throughout the nation.

The day’s events had the support of New York State’s top education officials.

“In a peaceful, yet powerful display of unity and civic engagement, students across New York State, and the nation, walked out of their classrooms to demand action on two of the most pressing issues of our time—ensuring school safety and stemming the tide of gun violence,” read a statement by Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “This is a national movement; it is real; and it is being driven by our students. As educators, we often talk about ‘teachable moments.’ These young people, united in peaceful protest to demand action by our Congress on gun violence, are turning tragedy into a teachable moment for our federal lawmakers. We commend these students for their bold example of leadership in action and call on Congress and lawmakers across the nation to heed their voices.”

In addition, Gov. Andrew Cuomo staged his own public event, joining students and teachers from Leadership And Public Service High School in Manhattan for a “die-in” at Zuccotti Park to also protest the lack of progress in firearms control legislation. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew joined the governor.

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Joe Scotchie is the editor of both The Roslyn News and New Hyde Park Illustrated News. In 2009, he won a New York State Press Association award for a sports feature. Joseph Scotchie’s past publications include biographies of Thomas Wolfe and Richard Weaver and a comprehensive history of the city of Asheville, North Carolina.

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