By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL
A student-led assembly was held Wednesday morning at Washington High School to remember victims who have died from violence.
Addison McGuire and Kyleigh Haifley were two students who led the assembly and helped organize it.
?I?m sure you all know a lot has been going on in our country with gun violence and everything,? Haifley said. ?This is not about banning guns. This is not about taking anyone?s right away. It?s about America?s safety. We aren?t trying to push our political views on any of you. We just want to show support and raise awareness to the people that lost loved ones and friends to violence.?
They wanted the family members who have lost loved ones to violence to know those victims won?t be forgotten, Haifley added.
McGuire echoed what Haifley said.
?This, today, is to show people that we do care and that we are always going to remember what happened, so that the family members don?t feel alone in these tragic times,? she said.
During the assembly, nine students wearing different colored shirts with the hashtag ?Marchforourlives? stood on the stage. The colored shirts represented the places where shootings or stabbings have taken place in the country starting with Columbine, Colorado, and ending with the most recent shooting at Rosemary Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Each place was announced with the number of people who were killed from these incidents.
Mallory Foster, another student who helped organize Wednesday?s events, gave her fellow classmates a choice at the end of the assembly.
?This is something that the nine of us are very passionate about,? she said. ?If you don?t want to participate, please don?t. These students? lives got taken from them by someone who thought their lives were theirs to take.?
The families of those victims have to live every day of the rest of their lives without their children, Foster added. The nine students wanted those families to know their children were in their thoughts and wouldn?t be forgotten.
Foster said the group would be honored if people joined them in the walkout.
?I hope that if you join us it is because you want to and not because your friends are, or if you decide not to join us, it?s not because you do not want to and because of your friends,? she said.
A 17-minute walkout was held after the assembly was finished.
Several students and staff gathered in the front lawn of the high school for that time period. The names of the students killed in Parkland, Florida, were read and six minutes of silence was held.
A letter was also available for students and staff to sign to show their condolences to the families of the Parkland, Florida, victims.
?We wanted not just a walkout, but we wanted something meaningful that we could send down to them to make sure that they know that we are here for them,? Haifley said.
Haifley said the participation was more than she thought.
?I?m glad that we had people participate and we had people in it with us,? she said.
?I honestly would have been happy if two people showed up,? McGuire added.
Washington High School principal Erik Buccholz said he thought things went very well Wednesday morning.
?I think the students had an opportunity to be heard,? he said. ?I think the students listened well during the assembly and went with it. The choice to participate in the walkout afterward or not is a good opportunity for kids to just know their voices can be heard either way.?
This was important to the administrators to give the students a chance to have this opportunity and keeping it organized and safe was the best way for the kids, he added.