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Students plan walkout in wake of Florida shooting

  • Anna McGuiness, a junior at ConVal, designs a poster in preparation for a walkout on Wednesday, March 14. Students at ConVal plan to walkout of school in order to raise awareness about gun violence exactly a month after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • A finished sign dries on a table at the Harris Center in Hancock on Monday, March 12, 2017. The sign is one of many that students plan to carry during a walkout in protest of gun violence exactly one month after the mass shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Lily Denehy, a senior at ConVal, works on a poster in preparation for a walkout on Wednesday, March 14. Students at ConVal plan to walkout of school in order to raise awareness about gun violence exactly a month after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Lily Denehy, a senior at ConVal, holds up a poster in preparation for a school walkout on Wednesday, March 14. Students at ConVal plan to walkout of school in order to raise awareness about gun violence exactly a month after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Lily Denehy, a senior at ConVal, works on a poster in preparation for a school walkout on Monday, March 12, 2018. Students at ConVal plan to carry signs during a walkout scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, 2018. The walkout was organized to raise awareness about gun violence exactly a month after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Anna McGuiness, a junior at ConVal, holds up a poster that she made in preparation for a school walkout on Monday, March 12, 2018. Students at ConVal plan to carry signs during a walkout scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, 2018. The walkout was organized to raise awareness about gun violence exactly a month after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Evening Iwanowicz, a senior at ConVal, holds up a poster that she made in preparation for a school walkout planned for Wednesday, March 14. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Anna McGuiness, a junior at ConVal, holds up a poster that she made in preparation for a school walkout on Monday, March 12, 2018. Students at ConVal plan to carry signs during a walkout scheduled for Wednesday, March 14, 2018. The walkout was organized to raise awareness about gun violence exactly a month after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 dead. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Lily Denehy leaned over a bright pink piece of poster paper at the Harris Center on Monday morning and scrawled the message: “fear has no place in schools.”

Once Denehy had finished the poster she carried it to a nearby room and let it dry alongside a number of others that had similar messages drawn on them.

“Guns kill people,” one read, “listen to young people,” another said, “politicians, no more NRA money,” a third said.

The signs were made by a handful of ConVal students, who used a day off from school to design posters for a walkout on Wednesday, March 14. The walkout is part of a national response to the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 students dead. The walkout at ConVal is one of many others planned at high schools in the state and across the country exactly a month after the school shooting occurred. 

Anna McGuiness, a junior at ConVal, said the days after the Florida shooting were “weird” and a little “uncomfortable.”

“People didn’t really know what to do about it because we were all really upset and like nobody was doing anything about it necessarily,” said McGuiness, who is one of the three organizers of the walkout at ConVal. “Everybody was doing the whole ‘thoughts and prayers’ thing, which obviously is appropriate for the morning after a shooting, but nobody was taking any action or anything, which was frustrating.”

McGuiness said shortly after the shooting, they formed a group called Students Against Gun Violence and organized the walkout at ConVal.

“We saw other kids organizing and said, ‘Hey, New Hampshire has really lax gun laws we want to do something like this for New Hampshire,’” McGuiness said.

She said a group of students plans to walk out of school on Wednesday at 10 a.m. where people will read names and engage in a moment of silence to honor those that were killed in the Florida shooting. The group will then march down Route 202, onto Main Street, and to the Peterborough Town Hall on Grove Street. Denehy, who also helped organize the walkout, said when they get to the Town Hall, students will make speeches and read poems. She said members of the public are welcome to attend the event. Afterward, Denehy said students will walk to the Monadnock Center for History & Culture, where they can sign petitions, write letters, and call local representatives. Students will stay at the center until 2:20 p.m.

McGuiness said they have a group of about 80 students on an email list, although she doesn’t know if all those people will walk out. She said some student might be hesitant because of potential disciplinary action that could be taken as a result of skipping class on Wednesday.

Denehy said she has been told by school administrators that disciplinary action would be administered on a case-by-case basis. She has been told students with a relatively clean track record may only receive a detention or two for walking out of school, while others with longer offenses may face greater consequences.

ConVal administrators didn’t return a call regarding the matter by deadline on Monday.

Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School students are planning to hold a 17-minute walkout on Wednesday, where they will read short biographies of the students killed at Stoneman Douglas, before going back to class, according to Principal Brian Bagley.

The ceremony was the idea of and has been organized by the National Honor Society students and their advisor, Amy White, said Bagley.

"They discussed whether they could do something that could best honor the victims of these horrible shootings," said Bagley. "There's nothing divisive here, and we're not getting political. They want to focus on the tragedy of 17 young lives being taken by violence in our schools."

Bagley said students will not be required to participate in the ceremony, but there will be no repercussions for students that do.

Students have also organized a walkout at Mascenic Regional High School in New Ipswich.

McGuiness said the response to the walkout at ConVal has been overwhelmingly positive. She said teachers and administrators haven’t said one way or another if they support the movement or not, but they’ve all been kind to organizers of the event. She said there have been murmurings of a group forming who support the second amendment, although no one has come up to her specifically and said anything.

But, McGuiness argued they aren’t looking to strip people of their right to bear arms. She said the group at ConVal supports changing legislation that would lift the age for purchasing a firearm to 21, ban assault weapons and accessories, require universal background checks, and ban firearms on school property. She said they would also like to see the state require permits to carry a gun and legislation that would the voting age to 16 for town elections.

“We’re not like trying to break into people’s homes and take their guns away,” McGuinness said. “We’re just trying to say, you know, there needs to be certain precautions in place to make sure that people who aren’t qualified to have guns, don’t have access to them.”

On Monday, Gov. Chris Sununu announced the formation of school safety preparedness task force, a group tasked with developing stronger safety protocols in schools across the state. In a press release, Sununu said the task force will evaluate and recommend actionable steps that can be implemented to ensure the state “has the safest schools in the nation.” The group will meet for the first time on Wednesday, March 14, the same day students across the country plan to walkout of school.

When asked if McGuiness feels safe in school, she answered, “that’s a tough question.”

“ConVal really does do its best to make sure we all feel comfortable at school. And you know there’s like a buzzer thing outside the door and stuff but honestly ConVal is a really easy school to get in and out of and given the state that we live in and our laws I’m just not sure how safe I actually am,” McGuiness said at the Harris Center on Monday.

Daisy Young, another organizer of the walkout at ConVal, agreed.

“Especially with the growing number of the amount of schools that have been through this. It’s easy to say that it won’t happen to you but it definitely could,” she said.

Reporter Ashley Saari also contributed to this article.