Students in Burbank Unified schools participated in the National School Walk Out on Wednesday, March 14. All elementary, middle and high schools in the Burbank Unified School District presented age-appropriate programs for students at 10:00 a.m.
Some students at a few Burbank secondary schools also walked outside to demonstrate against gun violence, for a safe learning environment and to call for stronger gun control legislation.
The National School Walk Out saw thousands of students in schools around the country march, demonstrate and protest against gun violence and call on legislators to address access to semi-automatic guns, which have been used in the majority of school, church and public event shootings over the years.
Burbank Unified elementary and middle schools addressed bullying and promoted kindness with their programs, explained BUSD Public Information Officer Kimberley Clark, while Burbank and Burroughs High Schools remembered the victims of the Parkland shooting during a 17-minute long program.
At Emerson Elementary, students, staff and parents met on the upper playground to celebrate peace, love and mindfulness. An Emerson parent volunteer who has been teaching the students mindful movement/yoga will lead a school wide peace activity which will be followed by the school community singing “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.”
Providencia Elementary held a school wide assembly and focused on the Peace Builders (anti-bullying program in BUSD) tenants and building peace at school, at home and in the community. Student Council officers spoke about specific way to spread kindness and combat bullying.
Washington Elementary presented several student speeches about being a Peace Builder in school, home and community. The entire school sang an Old English Canon, “Peace.”
Organized by the Associated Student Body group, students at Jordan Middle School gathered and talked about anti-bullying tactics and the school choir sang “America The Beautiful.”
Approximately 40 Jordan students, primarily eighth-graders, walked out to the front of the school to demonstrate and remember the 17 students murdered in the Parkland, FL, school shooting on February 14. Seventeen people laid on the ground and others linked arms and spent 17 minutes in silence.
Students at Muir Middle School presented a series of pre-screened speeches to fellow students.
Burbank and Burroughs High School students gathered on their respective quads, read the names of each victim of the Parkland shooting and released balloons in remembrance, for the National School Walk Out.
“A couple weeks ago, a couple students reached out to me to see if they can plan the National Walk Out,” explained Burbank High School Principal Michael Bertram. “I sat with them to hear their ideas. Together, they decided upon a silent protest in our quad.”
“The event began at 10:00 a.m. with one of the students announcing the event and then a different student holding an orange balloon and announcing the name of one of the Parkland, Florida, shooting victims each minute for 17 minutes.”
“Students had made signs in support of the victims and protesting the gun violence in our nation and our schools across the country. At 10:17 students went to their third period. This silent protest was respectful and well planned. Students were fantastic.”
“Approximately 300 students went out the front gate and stood on the front steps (not planned, but supported by us) and protested out front for 17 minutes,” Bertram continued. “When our bell rang at 10:17 about 230 students went back onto campus and went to class. About 70 students remained on the sidewalk in front of school protesting with various chants.”
The group of students then decided to walk around the perimeter of the campus, along the sidewalk, Bertram added.
Several administrators from the school and the District office accompanied the students to supervise for safety. After one lap around the school, students rested on the sidewalk for a short time and then marched an additional lap.
“All the while, they were respectful and well behaved.” said Bertram.
Around 1:00 p.m., the end of lunch period, the majority of students went back on campus and went to classes. Approximately 10 students remained out front sitting on the sidewalk in a circle, talking and continuing their demonstration.
“I want to say that I am always proud of my students and staff,” commented Bertram. “Today was no exception.”
“They were respectful of the victims of the recent shooting and represented our school well in their actions,” he added. “I feel strongly that my students will work hard to change their future.”
“I hope that as we move forward that our lawmakers will involve our students, staff, parents and administrators in the change that is needed to assist us in creating new ways to provide safe school environments for our students to be successful.”
Burbank Unified Superintendent Matt Hill released a statement in advance of the March 14 National School Walk Out saying:
“These protests have been organized by students to bring attention to the need to end school violence. While we fully support students and adults having the opportunity to express their concerns and opinions, we want to ensure those activities take place in a safe and productive manner. We have altered our bell schedules so that students will not miss class time during this period, and we have worked with students and staff to plan for age-appropriate activities at each school site.
We also encourage all students to remain on campus during this time period. Please note that if students miss class due to the protest, the absence must be counted as an unexcused absence in accordance to State law. If secondary students wish to protest on campus, school staff will encourage them to protest in a civil manner by going to a designated area on campus.”
On Saturday, March 24, members of the Burbank community will gather for an all-ages March For Our Lives against gun violence on the Chandler Bike Path. More information on the march can be found here.
*This article was updated at 2:39 p.m. on March 15, 2018, to include additional photos.