At least 165 Port Townsend High School students walked out of their school and down to the nearby ballfield to form a giant peace symbol in a demonstration of support for the victims and survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
Students carried signs and chanted “Enough is enough” during the rainy assembly on Wednesday, March 14. Just outside the ballfield fence, about two dozen adult supporters stood by with signs of their own. Some of the adults whistled their support.
“Everyone, can I have your attention? We are here today because on Feb. 14, 17 lives were lost,” said student Lily Carillo, who was speaking to the assembled students though a megaphone.
“We are here for peace,” Carillo said as the students stood in the field to form a giant, encircled peace symbol and sang the school song.
Carillo urged students who were 17 or 18 to be sure to vote when they could.
“Your vote matters,” Carillo said.
Students stood in silence for five minutes to honor the Parkland shooting victims.
“Thank you everyone for coming out today. I want you to remember … you are here because you believe in something. You are here today because you know what’s going on … I want to thank all of you … make the change you want to see happen … don’t just stand there idly. Do not allow yourself to be afraid of going to the place where you’re supposed to learn,” Carillo said.
One woman in the crowd yelled “Thank you!” to the students. Carillo turned her megaphone toward the adults and said, “You are an amazing community and you understand that we need change.”
PTHS freshman Holly Cochrane was one of the students who organized the walkout.
The students wanted to support “the survivors at the Parkland shooting, and trying to carry their message,” Cochrane said.
“I’m in a club called Students for Sustainability, and we did a lot of the planning and we put up posters and stuff,” Cochrane said.
The club has about 20 members who conduct activities such as beach cleanups, she said. When the club members learned of the Florida shooting and all the walkouts planned across the country, they decided PTHS should join in.
Cochrane said she did not follow news closely and did not know about the Florida shooting until “maybe a week after the fact.”
“I was just upset because … horrible stuff happens and you don’t even realize it.”
Cochrane said that not all students took part in the assembly.
“Obviously, there were some people who were still in the buildings. I don’t know the reasons. All of my friends were out,” Cochrane said. There are 362 students enrolled in Port Townsend High School.
Cochrane’s mother, Theresa Cochrane, was one of the adults who watched the assembly from the fence. With her was her son, Timberwolf, 11, and her daughter Rain, 8.
“I think it’s great that the kids are finally standing up and doing something and everybody is being so supportive of them. My daughter was in the group that organized it, and it was a real learning process for them, what to do exactly … but it was great because they did it, and it went off well,” Theresa Cochrane said.