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Bronx school activists are ‘nice and loud now’ after walkout against gun violence

Students at the Young Women’s Leadership School are inspired to do more political activism.

Taniya Evanson, 15, and Mercedes Clarke, 16, kneeling,

Taniya Evanson, 15, and Mercedes Clarke, 16, kneeling, joined classmates , from left, Eileen Twisami, 15, Mikayla Sumter Malone, 16, and Madison Abreu, 16, in organizing the walkout at the Young Women's Leadership School of the Bronx on Wednesday. They held posters made by the school's art department before walking out with other students. Photo Credit: Rajvi Desai

In a small teachers’ staff room, four young women at a Bronx high school plotted their rise.

Members of the student council of the Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx organized a school walkout for nearly 400 students Wednesday, and seamlessly carried out a 17-minute-long peaceful protest in support of victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida.

All over New York City, students from at least 81 schools walked out of their classes at 10 a.m., and rallied in favor of gun violence legislation for 17 minutes, one for each casualty of the Parkland shooting.

Promptly at the 17-minute mark, the entire student body of the Bronx school dutifully filed back into the school. Four student governors, however, sat huddled at a table in the teachers’ lounge, celebrating after carrying out the demonstration.

“It feels good to me because I feel like our voices were heard and it was run by all of us,” Taniya Evanson, 15, said. “The fact that we played a part in this movement is huge. It shows a lot.”

The success of the walkout would inspire even more students to become politically active, Evanson said.

“We can do whatever our minds come to at the end of the day,” she said. “The next one that we do, it’s going to be a show stopper. We are nice and loud now.”

Inspired by Parkland survivor Emma Gonzalez, 16-year-old Madison Abreu felt empowered to turn her confusion at gun violence into action. Energized by the support of her entire school, she started sharing ideas for the next school walkout, planning it in conjunction with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting on April 20.

“In my journalism class, we talked about the importance of these protests and how they can catch people’s eye,” she told her fellow student council members. “Come April 20th, we’re going to be out there.”

Smiling from ear to ear, the four young women were giddy with satisfaction, consumed with the need to effect change and optimistic about their legacy as students at the school.

“When [future students] think they are silenced, they can speak up,” Eileen Twisami, 15, said.

She, however, did not want to stop at that. Basking in the aftermath of their success led her to a realization: “I want to be president now.”

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