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Published March 21st, 2018
Middle school walkout in Moraga
Students participate in the March 14 walkout at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School. Photo Sophie Braccini

There was a little break in the rain on Wednesday morning March 14, long enough for Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School students to assemble for 10 minutes just before their third period for a walkout against gun violence, in solidarity with the students and school staff across the U.S. commemorating the killings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, exactly one month before.
Over half of the 400 JMIS students gathered around the flagpole at the school's entrance. A few parents came in support of the student-led event. All teachers had been asked to stay in the classrooms to supervise the students who decided not to participate.
Joan Danilson, principal at JMIS who witnessed the walkout, said that she was neither for nor against the walkout but supported the fact that students expressed themselves regarding social issues. The event, organized by eighth-grader Chase Obsitnik and her friends, proceeded in an orderly fashion.
Five middle school girls stood by the flag with a sound system and talked to their peers who listened with sustained attention. They read a poem from a Parkland student who had died, they read the list of those killed during the Parkland shooting, and mentioned all the shootings that have happened in the United States since Columbine. Chase asked for a minute of silence before calling the meeting to an end.
Besides the messages of remembrance, the students also called for politicians to enforce tougher gun control laws and institute a ban on assault weapons. In the crowd, students were holding signs reading slogans such as, "I've seen smarter cabinets at Ikea" or "Your A.R. or my life," or simply, "I stand for safety."
When parents left, some found a sheet of paper with the text from the Second Amendment on their windshield, stating: "A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."
Superintendent Bruce Burns, who came to JMIS to see how the event went, said that he received protest letters from a few parents who were opposed to the district authorizing the walkout. He informed JMIS parents of the position taken by his district in a letter where he emphasized the healing power for the students to express themselves in a meaningful, safe, respectful, empowering and non-political way.
(See the article by John Miller about the local high school walkouts.)

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