Tuesday, March 6, 2018 || By Michael Romain & Nona Tepper || @maywoodnews || Updated: 10 p.m.
Featured image: Students walk out of Oak Park and River Forest High School on Feb. 21. Proviso West students will take their lead on March 14 and stage a walkout of their own, along with students across the country. | Alexa Rogals
Students at Proviso Township High Schools District 209 are planning to join students across the country during what’s being called the Enough National School Walkout, which will take place at 10 a.m. on March 14 — one month after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Jaleel Anthony, a 17-year-old junior at Proviso West in Hillside who is helping to plan that school’s walkout, said that he expects at least 300 students to join the demonstration, which is open to the public.
“We’ve already contacted Hillside police,” Anthony said, adding that students have also reached out to local elected officials. On Monday, Hillside police department officials could not be reached for comment.
Anthony said that he has also been told by students from Proviso Math and Science Academy that they are planning to walkout as well, but no one from the school could be contacted on Monday afternoon to confirm that report.
Anthony said that signs promoting the walkout were being circulated inside of PMSA, according to students there.
Ethan Alonzo, a student at Proviso East, stated in an email that he was organizing a walkout at the Maywood school.
Anthony added that he’s been told by school administrators that students could be suspended for violating school policy. District 209 officials could not be reached on Monday to comment on the matter.
“We’ve been told that students who walk out will be suspended,” Anthony said. “But that’s giving some students even more reason to walk out. Students are coming together for something and you turn around and suspend them?”
In a recent interview, Forest Park Police Chief Thomas Aftanas said that some PMSA students contacted him about their plans.
When reached on Monday afternoon, Maywood Police Chief Valdimir Talley said that he had not been contacted about a possible March 14 demonstration by PMSA or East students.
Acting Maywood Police Commander Daryl Fairley said on Monday that the department will reach out to D209 administrators to get up to speed about what, if any, plans students at PMSA and East have for March 14.
“We’ll keep in contact with school security personnel and will assist them if we need to,” Fairley said. “This is a positive thing students are doing and we want to support them.”
Aftanas echoed Fairley’s sentiment.
“We’ll have a couple of additional auxiliary officers monitor how many students are out there, but we don’t anticipate any problems,” Aftanas said. “These kids are doing this and it’s a good cause. We just want to make sure they’re not going into the street. We’ll do traffic control if it’s even needed.”
Anthony said that Proviso West students plan on walking around the high school before meeting inside of the football stadium for a rally to bring awareness to action on gun violence.
“We’re going to let the government, and our representatives, know that we’re not backing down and that we don’t feel safe,” Anthony said. “Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws but the highest shooting rate.”
Anthony said that he and his co-organizers have consulted with students at Oak Park and River Forest High School, who walked out last month, as well as representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Proviso West junior added that, while “we give our love and condolences to students in Florida, we have problems of our own here and we want to show that gun violence is not just happening in the schools, it’s also happening in the communities.” VFP
For more local news, ‘Like’ our Facebook page