GLOVERSVILLE — Gloversville High School students participated in a supervised walkout and organized remembrance assembly Friday on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.
High School Principal Richard Demallie said that during the most recent monthly meeting of school administrators and the student liaison committee, the students had asked about organizing an event at the high school to coincide with the National Student Walkout that called for students to walk out of their schools Friday at 10 a.m.
Demallie said Friday that administrators agreed to collaborate with the students who developed the agenda for the event that lasted about 45 minutes.
Just before 10 a.m. a moment of silence was called in memory of the 17 lives lost at Columbine High School. Then students who wanted to participate in the supervised walkout gathered in the bus zone at the rear of the high school, exiting the building to walk around the school through the bus zone and back into the building through the main entrance.
After reentering the building, students went to the auditorium to watch three videos about what happened at Columbine, the first victim at Columbine and the four students leading the National Walkout movement. Student Liaison members then read a biography of each of the people who perished in Columbine while their photograph was displayed.
Councilman-at-Large Vincent DeSantis then spoke to students about ways that they can affect change before they returned to their normal classes.
Demallie said the students wanted to hold a remembrance event that would also educate students about the national movement against school violence.
“I’m elated at how respectful students were during the walkout. I’m elated at how they received the message,” Demallie said. “I believe every student was able to get the message which was to never forget and to educate students on the current movement. I’m very excited for them and very excited about the day.”
Demallie said the students were accompanied by faculty members at all times while they were outside for the walkout and never left school grounds.
In order to address security concerns, one city police officer was outside of the building during the walkout and maintenance vehicles were parked at the bus zone entrances to prevent visitors from driving into the area where students were walking. Both the high school and middle school were still accessible by vehicle.
“I think it went very well,” Gloversville Enlarged School District Superintendent Robert DeLilli said. “We wanted to make sure it was a safe environment. That was part of the plan.”
The event at the high school was voluntary, Demallie said about 250 students, or one third of the school, participated.
Demallie credited the student liaisons for the event’s success along with the high school Key Club and Sources of Strength who made announcements leading up to the event informing students interested in participating. He added that seniors Courtney Quakenbush, Kristina Fosmire, Reanna Stewart and Rebecca McCall and sophomore Nina Lomanto were instrumental in organizing the event.
The two clubs also labeled the occasions as a “pay it forward” day, handing out random acts of kindness that students can perform such as opening a door for someone, smiling or simply saying hello to positively impact another person’s day.
DeLilli said that the student led event was heartfelt, emotional and helped raise awareness among the students about taking care of one another.
“We left it up to student input, and this what they thought would be appropriate to express their thoughts and feelings,”DeLilli said. “It was very well organized and well planned. The students did a great job.”