Upper School for Boys shows solidarity in walkout movement


Upper School boys participate in a nationwide school walkout to advocate against gun violence in schools.

Nelson Athow

On Wednesday of this week, students all over the nation walked out of school at 10:00 am to in response to the recent school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Annie Wright Upper School for Boys class of ’21 spent these 17 minutes in and around their classroom in downtown Tacoma. Students who wanted to participate staged their own walkout across the street. A second group remained inside to participate in a non-political discussion hosted by Dean of Students Jeremy Stubbs and faculty member Dianne Matthaei.

Countrywide, not everybody walked for the same reasons. Many walked to protest the inaction of the government to resolve America’s recurring ailment of school shootings. Others walked simply to share a time of mourning for the 17 students and faculty killed in the incident. Some chanted and carried signs, while some sat for 17 minutes in silent reflection, like the students of Seabury Middle School in downtown Tacoma.

Annie Wright Upper School for Boys student Hyowon “Joey” Im said he believed the walkout was effective. “If we walk out a lot of people will see that a lot of students are rooting for school safety and they will try to help more. I think it can give a big impact to the people who see us walking out.”

His classmate Parker Briggs was more ambivalent. “I think it makes ourselves feel good but… I don’t think that something like this will have a huge effect on… what actually happens in the real world, but I hope it does and I hope we find some other way to help stop this,” he said. He also emphasized his belief that politics should not play a part in school safety and mourning human lives.Politics has no place here…we’re dealing with human lives and safety of younger generations, and this is much more important than any feuds between any political parties or beliefs,” he said.

I think it’s like a great way to show or express our sympathy to the victims of the shooting in the high school,” said another classmate, Tinh Dang. “The walkout is by the students themselves and I hope that it will make a big change to inform the government about the dangers of high school nowadays, so I hope they will pay some attention to students, especially high school students, because we’re not usually like, having a voice in society.”

Several student demonstrators expressed their belief in a general failure of the government to adequately combat school shootings. Most of the students in both the walkout and discussion were content to focus on the event itself, and disgruntled political statements were few and far between. Focus on the significance of the shooting itself and avoiding political confrontation was shared by the teachers supervising the event.

“I am proud of students in both the Upper School for Boys and the Upper School for Girls for taking seriously student activism about school safety,” said Director of Upper School for Boys Susan Bauska. “Whether students chose to walk out or stay inside to discuss the rights of students to learn without fear, our AWS community stands for safety, civil debate, and celebrating impassioned and informed student voices.”

Many students in the Upper School for Boys experienced difficulty in processing the magnitude of the Parkland shooting. Some demonstrators found a need to defuse the tension in such a grim subject matter by using humor. Students joked about mundane social affairs, talked about day-to-day school happenings, discussed tie tying techniques, and bashed Xfinity’s terrible products. At some point or another, almost every student had to take a break from the bleakness of the moment by sharing a laugh over some cheesy inside joke.

Inside the downtown building, a few students who chose to opt out of the walkout joined Mr. Stubbs and Mrs. Matthaei in discussing the shooting. Steering clear of political contemplation, the group talked about the shooting. Students and teachers alike shared their thoughts and feelings not only on Parkland, but on the walkout and safety at Annie Wright, and the students were encouraged to report offbeat behavior to faculty, parents, and other trusted adults in the community. Happily, none of the students in the discussion group expressed concern over their safety at Annie Wright.