Unionville High School observes peaceful walkout for gun safety

By Janet McGann, Special to The Times

Unionville student Eva Shepard, a senior, hold us a protest sign during Wednesday’s Walkout. Janet McGann photo.

EAST MARLBOROUGH — On Wednesday morning about 300 students from Unionville High School joined thousands of their fellow students around the nation, and were allowed to peacefully protest gun laws and to remember the victims of gun violence.

The Unionville-Chadds Ford School Administration allowed students five minutes to get to the courtyard and then after the 17 minutes of protest the students were given five minutes to get back to class. After negotiations with high administration, Unionville High School students were allowed to protest in the courtyard but not allowed to actually walk out of the confines of school. District officials cited safety concerns — and asked parents and members of the media not to attend the event.

Virtually every high school in the county participated in some manner in the walkout — with varying levels of participation. The Times chose not to cover the events in person with reporting staff (in many cases at the request of the school districts) because the editor felt it would be disruptive to the students. I am a student and participated in the Walkout.

The school’s Democratic club led the “Non-partisan walk out” and urged students to wear orange, the national color for gun safety, and to have students bring signs. These signs read “Never Again” the slogan for the national protest. Around 300 students participated in the organized walkout.

Suchi Jain, a senior at Unionville, addresses her fellow students Wednesday during the Walkout. Janet McGann photo.

Three different speakers from the Democratic Club went up to speak before their schoolmates.

First, Suchi Jain spoke about the danger students face without gun reform.

Next, Andrew Binder spoke about why school shootings such as the one last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. can’t continue and spoke of unity within the school student body no matter the political stance.

“Now I have some friends on the left who want me to come up here today and say that we should collect all guns and repeal the Second Amendment; but that’s not what this movement is about,” Binder said. “And I have some friends on the right who want me to stand before you and say it isn’t about guns and we need to arm teachers, but that’s not what this movement is about either. We need real solutions.”

Finally, Katelyn Tsai read the names and ages of the 17 victims recounted the details of the Parkland shooting in Florida and then lead the moment of silence.

The flier send out to students about the planned Walkout event.

After the speeches I asked Andrew Binder — President of the UHS Democratic Club — for a quote to describe how he felt about the protest. “I’m so inspired by the hundreds of students who said “Never Again” to gun violence,” he said.

Although this was labeled as a non-partisan protest no members of the Republican Club spoke during the protest. When I asked Republican Club president Aldo Medina if the Democratic Club didn’t allow the Republican Club to speak he simply stated “I appreciate the political awakening in many of our fellow students. Although our view points may be differing the most important thing one can do is to be informed and fight for what they believe. Fight the good fight, my friends. And secondly, it’s not that I was not allowed, but rather it was not my turn to speak considering that this was an organized event by the Democrat Club and their work went into making the event happen.”

After the 17 minutes of protest and 10 minutes of transit third period class was educationally limited and the day continued as if nothing had happened.

Janet McGann is a junior at Unionville High School and the daughter of Times’ Editor Mike McGann

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