Viera High student leaders make National Walkout Day a positive experience
As 17 balloons sailed away to conclude Viera High School’s participation in National School Walkout on Wednesday, March 14, student leaders were delighted that the gathering did not have to be a pure example of civil disobedience.
“The administration was very cooperative and allowed us to do this,’’ said Dani Mordas, a Viera High student who was the first speaker after the 9:28 a.m. walkout. “They asked us what we wanted to do. It was very important to come together to show support for Parkland.’’
On Feb. 14, a lone gunman and former student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland killed 17 people and wounded 14 others.
Six Viera High student government leaders spoke at the gathering, where a banner flapped with the following words:
Eagles and Hawks, together we stand,
sending love, thoughts, and prayers
From one flock to another
“We Fly Together”
Mordas pointed out in her introduction that Viera High School is 2 hours and 22 minutes north of Douglas High School.
Evan Caldwell, another speaker, called upon both the left and the right, politically, to come together for a solution and to end their political warfare.
Caldwell said that tragedy desensitizes everyone to pain and that fear can turn us against each other. If this is not rectified, society is doomed to repeat its past mistakes.
Nathalie Burgos, another speaker, is tired of waking up scared and how the cycle of tragedy has gotten old.
“We need to write to Congress and communicate with our government,’’ Burgos said afterward. “Direct communication is so important and not just settling (for the status quo).’’
Ariana Pereda said that one moment of silence is not enough to prevent bullying, which can lead to school violence. She said everyone matters and everyone has so much in common.
Andy Saraka, another student speaker, spoke out about standing up for what you believe is right. He implored his fellow students to do better than the elected officials, who have fallen short in their responsibilities. This is where society can be fixed.
Nivetha Aravind, the class president for Viera High’s senior class, wants Viera High students to stand up for peace, unity and strength. This can be achieved through the 17 acts of kindness movement, where a simple smile or kind act can change someone’s day.
Aravind wants her fellow students to let government leaders know their concerns and to participate in protest marches.
A voter registration day is scheduled for April 13 at the school.
Aravind quoted Mahatma Gandhi to wrap up her speech: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.’’
Afterward, Aravind said, “We need to create awareness as a first step to any chance for gun control or (treating) mental illness. Having this and reaching out to this large crowd is an integral part of the process. We want a better future for gun control legislation.’’
Mollie Roe did not speak at the gathering, but her classmates were quick to praise her work behind the scenes to make the day successful.
“We just want our students to get their voice out there,’’ Roe said. “This is the time. Everyone should have a chance to speak out. The administration was really flexible and supportive.’’
Michael Alba, the Viera High School principal, knew this could be a teaching moment. He rejected the notion and threats emanating from other principals around the country of punishing students for conducting a walkout.
“I appreciate the student leaders, and I wanted to put the appropriate respect in helping them organize an event to rally behind, Alba said. “They did a great job, and I’m super proud of them. We didn’t want to have several walkouts that weren’t well organized.’’
The brief assembly won’t be forgotten.
“This was a teaching moment to get the student government to send a message of hope,’’ Alba said. “This is positive with the acts of kindness. Students don’t know how well they can have a positive impact on the community.’’