Despite unrelenting snowfall that resulted in the cancellation of school, dozens of students and community members made their way to the Lincoln Academy campus the morning of Wednesday, March 14 to participate in a nationwide walkout to demand action on gun violence.
While similar walkouts were being held across the country, the local demonstration was organized by Lincoln Academy seniors Hannah Davis and Riley Golding and freshman Riley Stevenson.
Due to the snowfall, Lincoln Academy decided the evening of Tuesday, March 13 to delay classes by two hours the following day. While the walkout would have still been possible, the student organizers were aware a cancellation was likely.
“We knew it would likely change and school would be canceled, but we figured we’d still get the word out that we would be here and see who else would come,” Golding said. “I think it adds another level of depth to the walkout this many people were willing to show up even though it’s still snowing. It shows just how much it matters to them.”
The cancellation of classes did have a silver lining, however, as local community members were able to participate in the walkout. Prior to the walkout, Associate Head of School Andy Mullin had released a statement asking the community not to participate.
“We ask that the community respect that this is a student protest, and not a community event. While we appreciate that some in the community would like to join our students to support their walkout, safety considerations make it prudent to close our campus and keep this a student-only event,” Mullin said in the March 12 statement.
The day of the walkout, a dozen community members showed up to support the students and participate in the demonstration.
“While we’re losing the impact of actually getting up and walking out of class, we’re gaining the turnout of community members who are here to show support when they couldn’t have before,” Stevenson said.
Prior to the walkout, the students sold light blue shirts for $5 each with the words “Right to Bear Dreams” written across the front. Many donated additional funds, and the proceeds will be donated to March for Our Lives, an upcoming rally against gun violence in schools and communities.
The march will take place in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, March 24, with more than 800 community events being held worldwide, according to the March for Our Lives website.
A majority of the participants in the March 14 walkout donned the shirts as they walked through the doors of the Lincoln Academy Alumni Dining Commons.
Standing on a milk crate and flanked by Stevenson and Golding, Davis thanked the participants for braving the snow to participate. She explained the reasons for the walkout, as well as the discussions held with fellow students about the issue leading up to the demonstration.
“This is a deeply political and highly charged issue, but in discussions and debates over the past few weeks, we have come to realize every student can agree that none of us want to die in this school. We’re here to learn. We shouldn’t have to be afraid of getting shot,” Davis said.
“In organizing this, we opened this walkout to people of many different beliefs,” Davis said. “We stand by that. We can agree on the major point, while still disagreeing on the finer points. In its most primal form, this walkout is about school safety and against senseless violence.”
With the school’s bell tolling behind her, Davis read the names of the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. The crowd then engaged in 17 minutes of quiet protest, one minute for each of the victims.
After the demonstration, each organizer said they were overwhelmed with the turnout in the face of inclement weather.
“No matter what happens now, this was a start of a conversation, and there are going to be more,” Golding said.
To watch a brief video of the event by Nobleboro filmmaker Charles Stuart, click here.