Meghan Neely 

Photo by Meghan Neely

Snow may have delayed the plans of Champlain Valley Union High School (CVU) students to take part in the national walkout against gun violence on March 14, but it certainly didn’t stop them altogether. In spite of freezing temperatures, they kept true to their plans and filed out of CVU’s classrooms two days later, on Friday, March 16.

The walkout was organized by CVU senior Peter Trombley in cooperation with the school’s principal and other student leaders who felt it was time to answer the national call. “I was really glad to see that so many people would come out in the cold,” Trombley said after the walkout.

Students and teachers filed outdoors into the school’s visitor parking lot just before 10:00 a.m. Pickup trucks with snowplows attached guarded the lot’s entrances, and parents who’d come to join the walkout parked along the snowy road.

Huddled together, those in attendance observed a moment of silence. Seventeen pairs of shoes were laid out before them on the front sidewalk, a reminder of those killed on February 14 at Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Behind these shoes was a snow-covered picnic table that student leaders used as a platform for speaking.

For 17 minutes student leaders spoke to their assembled classmates about the need for action. They spoke about the need to help one another feel safe and welcome in their community, and they also spoke about the need for action against the NRA and for tougher gun legislation.

“How much money can another politician turn his or her head for?” one student asked. She told her classmates that the NRA had already donated $163,000 to members of Congress in 2018. That number, divided by the number of children enrolled in the national public-school system, comes out to less than a penny per student. “That,” she said, “is the price of our lives.”

Students old enough to vote were encouraged to register at the tables set up outside of the CVU main office. Others were encouraged to take action in different ways. “You don’t have to be a certain age to draft a bill,” Trombley told them. He also extended an invitation for those interested to travel to Washington D.C. with him and 30 other CVU students for the national March for Our Lives on March 24.

“We’re going leave on Saturday at midnight and drive through the night,” Trombley said. “In the morning, we’ll arrive in D.C., and we’re going to march.”

Trombley has raised over $9,000 through GoFundMe for students to attend the event in Washington. “Our community reached out and was really great in supporting us,” he said. His original goal of $8,000 was passed within the first 50 hours of the campaign, allowing for CVU to make the trip at little to no cost for students.

“CVU is not stopping here, and we’re not stopping at the march,” Trombley added. The next call to action is on April 20, and Trombley said he’s looking to bring students and state legislatures together. “A march without action is a parade,” Trombley said. “And we’re really hoping to turn this into something concrete.”