Student walkouts set for March 14

Local high schoolers showing solidarity with peers nationwide

NASHUA – Whether students in local high schools decide to stand up and walk out of class on March 14 in protest, or if they would prefer opt out, administrators across the board share the same message: we support you.

When a former student opened fire on his classmates at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month, killing 17 and injuring others, many offered their thoughts and prayers to the victims.

While this tragedy was not unlike other school shootings, it resonated with people. Students, who had reportedly grown tired of “thoughts and prayers,” this was no longer enough. They demanded action and a solution to the ever-increasing numbers of their peers being killed in school shootings.

Schools across the country are organizing walkouts on March 14, exactly one month after the massacre.

Local high schools, Nashua High School North, Nashua High School South, Hollis Brookline High School, Merrimack High School, Pelham High School and others are in the planning stages of their own protests, many taking different forms.

“We’ve talked about doing maybe a 17-minute academic pause,” Merrimack Principal Kenneth Johnson said. “What’s important is that we want it to be student-led, not teacher-led or administrator-led, and we want it to be voluntary.”

If the students do walkout, he said, safety will have to be a factor, sending students to designated areas like they would in a fire drill.

From his conversations with them, Johnson said his students are less interested in sending a political message than they are in making a human stance to show compassion.

Whatever they choose to do, he said, “we want to support our students.”

At Nashua South, principal Keith Richard said a few students have approached him about organizing something, perhaps a walkout, or maybe an assembly, but nothing has been set in stone yet.

“They want their voices heard,” he said. “It’s good to hear their passion. They want to make some changes so that this doesn’t happen again anywhere else.”

At Hollis Brookline High School, they also are early in the planning stages, but Principal Rick Barnes said no matter what, the students have the administration’s full support.

“Right now, our job is to ask, what do you want to do?” Barnes said. “How can we support you?”

Hannah LaClaire can be reached at 594-1243 or