GHS students join walkout, focus on next steps

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Virginia Hugo-Vidal, a Gorham senior, makes voter registration cards available to classmates Thursday, March 15 in a school walkout.

Approximately sixty, peaceful Gorham High School students walked out of classes Thursday, March 15 in support of school safety for local, Maine and national students. With a stepped-up police presence, they gathered under a U.S. flag waving in a steady breeze.

After a group moment of silence, an organizer of the Gorham walkout, senior Virginia Hugo-Vidal, waved voter registration cards, urging fellow students to fill them out and take the cards to the town clerk’s office.

“I advocate voting for gun control candidates,” Hugo-Vidal said. “I’m definitely pro common sense gun control.”
Edited on 3/16/18 to add:
The Gorham event was first slated for 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14 in conjunction with the nationally organized school walkout following the shooting deaths of 17 in a Parkland, Fla., high school. But school was canceled here because of the snowstorm. Gorham High School students opted to hold their walkout noon the following day to rally against gun violence.

In stepped up security, Assistant Superintendent Christopher Record was on hand and Gorham Police Department heightened its presence. Before the walkout, Record met with Deputy Police Chief Christopher Sanborn and School Resource Officer Wayne Down in the lobby near the school’s main office.

Lt. Michael Nault and Officer Michael Coffin were also on duty inside the school.

“We want everybody to be safe,” A school counselor, Betsy Anastasoff, said before the walkout.

Record said the students care about the world and the community. “We support students advocating for themselves and engaging the world around them,” Record said.

Students walking out gathered in the gym before exiting the building. The number appeared to be less than 10 percent of the school’s 850 enrollment.

“Every single student should be out here,” a voice in the crowd shouted.

Before the walkout, Hugo-Vidal said the main object was to draw attention to a national issue on school safety. In a reference to school shootings, she said the protesting students want the public to realize that “students are fed up.”

Following the walkout in Gorham, students returned to classes. For a next step, Hugo-Vidal said students would call Maine’s Congressional delegation en masse to voice their support for gun control measures.

Virginia Hugo-Vidal, a Gorham senior, makes voter registration cards available to classmates Thursday, March 15 in a school walkout.

Gorham sophomores  Ava Pitman, left, and Abby Miller display their messages Thursday, March 15 in the walkout.

About 60 Gorham High School students walk out from classes Thursday, March 15 in support of safety for students in Maine and the nation.