Local middle school students participate in nationwide walkout - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Local middle school students participate in nationwide walkout

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)

It was a day for our youth.

Students walked out of classrooms across the nation in response to the Parkland, Florida massacre which happened one month ago.

However, it wasn’t just high school students walking out of class in solidarity.

A large group of Bellamy Middle School students in Chicopee also participated in the nationwide observance.

Roughly 630 Bellamy Middle School students exited to fill the parking lot, hanging orange and white balloons to honor the 17 students who died as a result of the shooting.

Bellamy Middle School principal, Matthew T. Francis, said he had not seen anything like it before.

“I asked all the social studies teachers just to do a preemptive mini-lesson on what the walk out was calling for and what are their rights as students,” Francis told us.

While the number of students who chose to take part in the walkout was impressive, there were also students who chose to not take part in it all. Which is OK, according to the school.

“It was optional, we had about 170 students who opted out,” Francis said.

Among those participating in the walk out were members of the Game Change leadership team from Chicopee High School, a mentorship program that was spearheaded by the attorney general, the New England Patriots and other schools across the state.

Kacie Smith, Chicopee High School senior and Game Change leader, told us they felt it was time to take a stand.

“Enough is enough,” Smith said. “We're with you, Parkland. We're standing with you.”

The leadership team calls for an innovative approach to violence prevention led in part by student leaders.

Chicopee High School senior, Skylar Godbout, told us Game Change is about trying to be better.

“Just to be a better person, and not be afraid to be a better person, and to stick up for someone when you feel that they need it,” Godbout said.

This serves as a good message to the younger kids that the high school kids are right there along with them.

The shirts they wear read, ‘One can make a difference.’

Francis told us that message could extend beyond Chicopee.

“As a closing activity students could write letters to their congressman or senators,” Francis said. “They also had the opportunity to write letters to Marjory Stoneman High School to show support.”

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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