Drinking coffee on an early winter morning at Columbia University while waiting for our first lecture for Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA), we never expected to witness a walkout at a cathedral in New York. We were taken by surprise that so many students so far from South Florida cared about the fight for student safety.
The middle school students of St. John the Divine School in Upper Manhattan staged a walkout to stand in solidarity with hundreds of schools across America. Protesting for gun control and memorializing the tragedy that happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school, the Right Reverend, Andrew Dietsche, asked the cathedrals of the the New York Diocese to open their doors to “observe a day of prayer.”
“Part of what we’re doing here today is mourning those who lost their lives and to grieve their passing. Another part of what we are doing is coming together as a community in love for one another and in strength with one another,” said Bishop Dietsche.
Along with the silent protest, several students lit 17 candles to commemorate the students and teachers who lost their lives. “The fact that we are associated with the cathedral wasn’t a hinderance; it was actually something that created a spark. We take our cue from this history of activism and caring for each other,” said Josh Deitch the upper school division head at St. John the Divine School.
“The cathedral has a long history of activism and in the fight for rights and justice, the school is so lucky to be part of a community that shares these values,” said Deitch.
Deitch encouraged students to reflect upon the issue and become as involved as they felt necessary. The students were given the opportunity to write letters to legislators, write notes in support of the Parkland community or reflect and react on their own accord.
One of the students participating in the walkout said, “I think that it’s a great opportunity for all of us in this very sad time to come together and have the experience of thinking about these 17 victims and keeping them in our hearts because it could have been any of us.” Another student, passionate about taking a stand said, “The Parkland community and all the people from Florida have really stepped up this incident has made us come together as one. Our country stands for what is right. We can do it.”
The students of St. John the Divine Cathedral feel a connection to the Parkland students and are “going to support them through their journey.”