Some Stamford students take seat for walkout
Updated 3:56 pm, Tuesday, March 13, 2018
STAMFORD — Every Friday, Brendan Leung goes to the Cos Cob Revolver Club where he learns the basics of shooting and the benefits of guns when they are in the right hands.
“They want to teach you guns are not as bad as you think,” the Stamford High School sophomore said. “They’re trying to teach you in the right hands, guns are safe. It’s not an organism that has a mind of its own.”
When the 15-year-old heard about Wednesday’s walkout — a nationwide initiative to honor victims of last month’s shooting in Florida and intended to spark conversations about school security — he began researching the cause.
Leung realized the walkout was tied to the Women’s March, which advocates for stricter gun control and something he doesn’t think will help eliminate school shootings.
So when his classmates walk out at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Leung and a handful of others will remain at their desks.
Adam Piersa, 18, will also not participate in the walkout, which the Stamford High School senior believes will not be an effective way to initiate change.
“I really don’t feel like a bunch of students walking out in an already sanctioned event is going to make a difference here,” Piersa said. “It’s basically a field trip. A lot of them just want to go out and get out of class to do that.”
The Stamford walkout is being organized by SUPER, a union of students from the city’s three public high schools representing their classmates’ feelings on school safety. The walkout will include student speeches on school security, gun control and mental health.
While Leung and Piersa support honoring the students killed in Florida, they do not agree with the anti-gun message of the walkout.
“I don’t think I want to be there to hear the anti-gun things, because I don't think that’s the way to fix gun violence,” Leung said. “Guns, they’re a tool just like anything else...I don’t think they’re weapons. Anything can be used as a weapon. As a student that does shoot guns regularly, I think we should have either armed teachers or armed policemen in the schools at all times.”
At Westhill High School, Principal Michael Rinaldi informed the staff and parents about the guidelines the district approved for the optional walkout.
“One of the points we made was that absolutely no one is forced to participate or not,” Rinaldi said Tuesday.
Piersa and Leung said they haven’t felt peer pressure to participate in the walkout, though many of their classmates plan to join it. School district officials have said students not participating will be supported and classes will continue on schedule.
“I don’t think there’s any pressure in Stamford High,” Leung said. “It’s a diverse school where people's opinions can be outputted and not judged.”
Neither student participated in last year’s walkout to protest the appointment of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.
“Last year, I was fresh out of middle school, so I had no idea what anyone was talking about,” Leung said. “I just got a rush of information, so I couldn’t process anything. But I also don’t agree with walking out of school. It’s a place to learn even if the school does allow walking out. It interferes with my education.”
Piersa said he’d be more interested in an event with a more educational component to inform students about both sides of the issue.
“If they did, we’d have a much more informed student body who’d have much better opinions and contribute more to the public order,” Piersa said.