SOUTH PASADENA.–Some 1,500 students in South Pasadena walked out of class for a brief march Wednesday morning, to bring attention to the nationwide scourge of gun violence.
The protests, like those being staged by students at schools across the country, were also to honor the 17 victims of last month’s mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
“This is beautiful. I love that we’re exercising our First Amendment right,” said South Pasadena High School junior Jackie Takarabe. “This kind of activity is a necessary thing, if we’re going to change the government, and make important improvements to our country.”
South Pas High principal Janet Anderson estimated that some 1,000 of her students took part in the march, which like others in the nation, was designed to last 17 minutes – one minute for each of the murder victims in Parkland. Around 500 students from South Pasadena Middle School are believed to have assembled for a separate march.
While she couldn’t officially endorse students leaving campus during school hours, Anderson agreed the protest was a teachable moment.
“We asked the students what they wanted to do do, whether it would be some sort of on-campus activity or something off-campus,” she explained. “As adults, we try our best not to teach them what to think, but **how** to think, and then back away and support them.”
The marches from each school headed to Fair Oaks Avenue, progressed north to Monterey Road, then took their separate round-the-block paths back to their respective campuses. South Pasadena police kept watch, providing traffic control for the kids.
The Los Angeles Unified School District had urged students in their schools to remain on campus in favor of activities and demonstrations in school, also asking parents to explain to their kids the importance of staying at school. Students from several LAUSD schools, however, left campuses for their marches.
Anderson had little worry about the behavior of the students from South Pas. “I’m confident our kids are capable of handling this in a safe and responsible way,” she said. “The students are concerned. They’ve had enough of the gun violence and they want to be heard,” she added. Takarabe warned against overlooking the values and goals of high schoolers, based simply on their ages. “Just because we’re teenagers doesn’t mean we can’t make positive change in our community,” she said.