Santa Ynez Valley Union High School students are sending a message demanding elected representatives take action to make schools safe. A committee of students are working collaboratively with the school’s administration to plan a peaceful rally to coincide with the #ENOUGH National School Walkout event planned for March 14, 2018. The 17-minute rally for students and staff will be held on campus from 10:00 to 10:17 AM. It will feature student speakers alongside tributes to the 17 victims of the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Student speakers will issue three calls to action. SYHS students will be encouraged to write or phone their elected representatives; to sign and circulate a Change.org petition on their social media accounts; and to register to vote if they are or soon will be old enough to vote.
“Students should feel safe when they walk onto their school campus. I want to help our Valley protest this fear students have and show our elected representatives that we will not be silenced,” says sophomore, Kiara Costarelli, one of the student organizers of the event. Senior Bella Manfreda, another student organizer, adds, “No matter what our opinions or beliefs, we can all come together and agree that something must be done to protect the students of the United States. Since the adults in Congress are not taking action, it’s time for students to stand up and make our voices heard.”
Principal Mark Swanitz is impressed with this group of young people and their desire to get involved and effect change. “Kiara and Bella found out they were both interested in staging a walkout event. They decided to combine their efforts and approached me for school support. I couldn’t be more proud of the maturity and professionalism these young women and the others on the committee have demonstrated in organizing this event. Seeing their leadership and activism gives me great hope for the future.”
SYHS students who participate in the school-sponsored activity and act appropriately will not face any academic or disciplinary consequences. Students who opt not to participate will have a supervised alternate activity while the rally is being held.