Santelises praises students for ‘showing us the path’ with walkouts

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Baltimore City Public Schools headquarters on North Avenue. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Across the country today, students participated in a walkout to protest gun violence in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 dead.

Here in Baltimore, students at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Baltimore City College, Hampstead Hill Academy, City Neighbors Charter School and Excel Academy were just some of the schools to participate. And the Baltimore City Public Schools’ Twitter account eagerly retweeted dispatches from the protest and offered their support.

In a statement, schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises praised the students for their leadership and drew a connection to the gun violence students experience outside the classroom in the city.

“Our young people are always inspirational, and today they learned that they are powerful. The issue of gun violence has touched many of our students directly, and all of us in Baltimore have felt its effects. After too much violence and too little action, our students are showing all of us a path with the promise of real change. I am proud of their productive participation in this nationwide movement and, as an educator, I am proud and moved by the many ways they expressed their views–through silent protest, marches, writing, songs and chants–in a real-life application of student voice. I look forward to seeing where they will lead.”

The activist group City Bloc at City College made a similar association, saying their protest was in solidarity with Florida while also acknowledging “the gun violence and poverty in the Cities of Baltimore and Chicago.”

They coordinated with groups in the Windy City who used the hashtag #GoodKidsMadCity. Following their march outside, City Bloc said they would pause for 18 minutes to mark the 17 lives lost in Parkland–a measure schools across the country performed–as well as the 18 homicide victims in Baltimore over the last 30 days.

In a list of demands released Monday, the group called for improvements like more school funding, investment in youth employment opportunities and mental health services, and pulling back the police presence in Baltimore communities in addition to stricter gun policies and getting NRA money out of politics.

Brandon Weigel

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