By Katie Hayes / firstname.lastname@example.org
Despite a bomb threat that caused Winlock High School to be evacuated on Wednesday morning, nine students, two educators and the principal still gathered at 3:15 p.m. to tie yellow ribbons to the fence outside of the schools in honor of the victims of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Student Joana Barragan organized the event.
“This wall had nothing to do with politics,” Joana said. “This fence and what we did today, we stayed away from the politics. Even though it is a conversation that we need to have. I feel like this will be a reminder for everyone that when they pass through Winlock High School that these things happen and they can happen to anyone. We need to be prepared, and something has to be done. School has to be a safe place and every day it feels like it’s not getting to be a safe place.”
Joana said that although she isn’t sure where she stands on gun laws, the conversation is an important one. Before the group tied ribbons to a piece of fence by the road, Joana addressed everyone with a bullhorn.
“School shootings has been a huge problem,” Joana said. “This is a really important cause to us. We are sick of seeing images of kids on screen being murdered. It doesn’t matter if you’re pro gun or not — it needs to stop.”
A second student addressed the group as well, but there was so much controversy surrounding the day that she asked not to be identified in this article.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday — at the same time high schools across the nation organized walkouts — students from both the high school and middle school stood inside and held hands to remember the victims from the Parkland school shooting. Three students spoke and then everyone stood in silence for 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims.
“The honoring went really well,” Winlock School District Superintendent Richard Serns said. “We decided to do something with student direction and it went beautifully.”
Serns said school will resume tomorrow.
Joana said she wasn’t at school when students evacuated.
“I was getting supplies for the ribbon tying,” Joana said.
Spanish teacher Rhiannon Batey said 60 to 70 students stood in solidarity from both the high school and middle school that morning.
“Nobody took pictures,” Batey said. “It was such a beautiful moment that nobody wanted to break the circle.”
Joana said she decided to organize a ribbon ceremony instead of a walk out, because she didn’t want it to be divisive.
“A lot of kids had concerns about a walkout,” Joana said that morning. “Kids didn’t feel comfortable protesting gun laws when they didn’t know if they were for it or not. That’s why I came up with this alternative.”
As Joana held the bucket of yellow ribbons to pass out, she asked people to write the name of someone who died, not just in the Parkland school shooting, but any school shooting.
“I think I’m going to do a student from Sandy Hook,” said Rosicela Luna, who is an English Language Learners (ELL) teacher. “Those were such young lives lost. It was such a tragedy.”
High School Principal Brian Maley also wrote a name on one of the ribbons.
“I think these guys have done a great thing here today and I’m very proud of them,” Maley said.