Dear Gateway families,
How do you teach a child to lead?
How do you get a child to care passionately about a subject?
How do you inspire a child to believe in their ability to make a difference?
Almost 40 of our middle school students participated in the National School Walkout, in which tens of thousands of students across the country walked out of class to honor the lives lost in the recent school shooting in Parkland, FL, and also those of earlier shootings.
In order to be eligible to participate in the walkout, Gateway middle school students were required to attend at least two of three preparation meetings. A group of five student leaders met separately to craft a permission slip, which required each participant to explain to their parents why they felt it was important to be part of the walkout. Each student then wrote their personal call to action on a sandwich board, which the students wore during the walkout.
Our students walked down West Cliff to the Lighthouse, where they formed a line facing the street. At the mark of one of the student leaders, they began 17 minutes of silence. Many passing drivers and pedestrians showed their support; for example, a woman jogging with her baby stopped and asked to take a picture, while a driver pulled over and told the students they were heros.
Those students who did not participate in the walkout also had important learning experiences. In small groups they discussed their choices to stay at school, their feelings and comfort with the idea of direct action, and the responsibility they each carry for finding the right ways to advocate for the issues about which they are passionate.
Hearing and seeing our middle schoolers choose to take their time to learn about the Second Amendment, how gun control and mental health issues are depicted in the media, think through their own views on these and related subjects, and then take action, was inspiring and uplifting. Our school goal is for children to discover their individual and collective potential to make a positive change in the world. Truly, today, our Middle School students showed they are ready to be agents for positive change.
This past weekend, over 200 schools from the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) published a signed letter in both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times (click the link to read the full text of the statement). This is an exceptional step of public activism on behalf of our school, and I’m proud that through Gateway’s participation in this publication, our Board, employees and community are beginning to take a more active role in promoting a safe, peaceful, and just society. On behalf of all children, we have much more work do to.
Dr. Zachary Roberts
Head of School