Students marched around Linden High School on Wednesday as part of a nationwide protest for protection against gun violence and to remember victims of school shootings. Inside the school, students held an emotional sit-in. 

By Gary Miller

Outside, hundreds raised their voices, loudly chanting “Never Again” and “Enough is Enough.”

Inside, they sat silently, some sobbing, remembering those killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., and hundreds of other victims of school shootings that came before.

Put together, the two displays by students at Linden High School on Wednesday, March 14, sent a powerful message that they are tired of living in fear of gun violence in school and that they are demanding action.

“It affects us,” said junior Hannah Tisdall. “At the end of the day, we’re the ones that could be in danger. We’re the ones affected by this issue. We need to be able to express our opinions and express what we need. And we need change.”

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Names and information about the victims of the Parkland shooting were read over the school loudspeaker, one each minute during the 17-minute sit-in throughout the school. Many students sat in silence outside their classrooms listening to the announcements.

Meanwhile, the students who walked outside gathered at the front of the school under the watchful eyes of teachers, administrators and the Linden Police Department to make sure they stayed safe. The students then marched in the side streets around the school, chanting and holding signs calling for better protection from gun violence.

“We’re hoping that protesting might help to open the eyes of those who run the country,” said LHS junior Jade Rich. “We need to protect people, not guns.”

When the marching and chanting students circled back around to the front entrance, they went back into the school and feel silent as they joined in with the sit-in.

“For those students who chose to walk out, you did so in such a respectful way,” Principal Yelena Horre told the students after they returned. “The fact that you came in so quietly and joined in [the sit-in], too, to honor the student and the lives that were lost – I’m incredibly proud of you.”

After a short time, the student returned to class, but this is not going to be the end of the movement.

“This is only the first step,” Horre said. “They want to continue to do more. They are going to be writing letters to lawmakers and talking about what else it is they can do to make sure their voices continue to be heard and it’s not a one-and-done.”

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Students at both of our middle schools also took part in Wednesday’s nationwide action.

Students at Soehl Middle School sat outside of their classrooms peacefully starting at 10 a.m. During this time, students read over the loudspeaker the names and bios of the 17 victims of the Parkland, Fla., shooting. Students then played a song titled “Shine,” performed by the Stoneman Douglas High School drama club.

At McManus Middle School, some students held a sit-in in the hallways, while others decided to exit the building for a peaceful sit-in near the main front walkway.

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The Linden Board of Education will be holding a meeting of the Parent Educational Support Team (EST) on Tuesday, March 20, in which representatives of the New Jersey Department of Education will address school safety. All parents are encouraged to attend at 7 p.m. in the Susan L. Hudak Auditorium at Linden High School.