By Isabelle Good-Ricardo
“When I first heard about the walkout movement,* I wondered why our school wasn’t showing more effort to do something meaningful like the other schools who were going to walkout,” eighth-grade student Isabelle Good-Ricardo said.
“Middle school is such a weird time in your life. You’re growing up, making friends, and you’re trying to figure out who you are. You have to do all this while juggling school work. That doesn’t leave much time for politics,” Good-Ricardo explained.
“What some people don’t understand is that we are the next generation of voters,” she emphasized. “In a few years, we will be the people who decide the fate of our country. It is so important that we establish a foundation of beliefs when we are young.”
Good-Ricardo said the walkout isn’t to force anyone to participate. “It is to make sure we know that we are people whose voices can and will be heard. We are living history in the making and we’re missing it! It’s time that we stop watching and start doing.”
“I urged the school and my peers to join and follow the national movement by planning a walkout for (Robert E.) Bell (Middle School in Chappaqua) on March 14th at 10 a.m. and started by reaching out to some of the eighth graders,” she said. (When) it became clear students from other grades decided to join, “I emailed the teachers and principal to let them know what will happen so that they are aware of what will take place on that day.”
Good-Ricardo then met with school Principal Dr. Martin Fitzgerald.
“He is concerned about safety and liability and urged me to think about possibly pursuing a different, ‘safer,” more passive action,” she said. “I think it’s so important to be honest with my peers, so after the meeting I consulted them and told them everything he said. They responded by saying that they still want to do it.
After getting feedback from other students, the group decided to continue with its plans.
“We feel that it is our responsibility to take part in a nonviolent civic action such as this one,” Good-Ricardo maintained. “I have gotten such a positive response from this, and I hope that this sparks a fire in people to let them know that they are important and their actions do make a difference.”
She hopes the momentum from this movement “will be enough to leave a memorable mark, and that the country will begin to understand that we will no longer watch history go by. We will make our own.”
* Editor’s Note: This story of Isabelle’s statements to the Inside Press was edited by Janie Rosman. For additional background, see Rosman’s related story: https://www.theinsidepress.com/here-at-home-area-students-plan-to-support-their-peers-in-parkland/