March 12, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Parents with children at PS 11 will stage a walkout this Wednesday, joining the thousands of national walkouts and events happening in the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.
The symbolic walk out at PS 11, located at 54-25 Skillman Ave., will take place at 10 a.m. on March 14, where parents will stand outside the school’s main entrance for 17 minutes to honor the 17 people who were killed in Parkland.
The walkout, first put forth by the Women’s March Youth Empower group, was brought to PS 11 by Amanda Keane Stack, a Woodside resident who has two children at the elementary school.
“My kids are 7,” Keane Stack said. “They’re too young to know about it and participate, but I wanted to be a part of this movement, and I wanted PS 11 to have nationwide representation.”
“It’s their generation facing this violence epidemic,” she added. “We decided we can walk out on their behalf.”
The school’s PTA supports the walkout as does the principal, Elizabeth Peña-Jorge, who has allowed teachers who have a free period during the walkout to join the event. Keane Stack says the walkout is open to all in the community, regardless if they are parents or have children at PS 11.
The mother of two stresses that the event is not for young children.
“At 4 years old they already have lockdown drills,” Keane Stack said. “I don’t think 5 to 7 year olds need to know there’s someone with an automatic weapon coming to hurt them.”
She added that the walkout is a way to do something other than sit on the sidelines and like posts on social media.
“One day [my children] are going to learn about Columbine and Newtown and Parkland,” Keane Stack said. “They’re going to ask me what I did about it, and I can’t say ‘nothing’.”
While there is no RSVP for the event, an ideal number of parents would be between 50 and 100, Keane Stack said.
The city has listed a couple of guidelines for students and parents for March 14, noting that middle and high school students who walk out and return will have been “cutting” class, and will not face consequences beyond a notation in their attendance record.
Elementary school students, however, need to be signed out by their parents or guardians, the DOE said. If they are not, they must remain inside the school.
In addition, the United Federation of Teachers, the union representing teachers, said plans for March 14 vary across schools, and are decided by the principals.
Over 2,500 walkouts have been organized nationwide, according to Empower. Several high schools in Queens are set to participate, including Cardozo High School in Bayside, which will see Queens Borough President Melinda Katz in attendance.