Students raise awareness on one-year anniversary of Parkland


Linsey Sparks

Getting to school at 6 am to set up the display of shoes, Rowan Hoel and Leah Zukosky, seniors, along with Michael Peoples, principal, prepare for students to arrive. “It took about two and a half hours [to set up],” Hoel said. “We started the day before, taping shoes. First we had to get all the shoes which took a week. For each name, we cut out a piece of poster board and wrote their name and age on it.”

Eliot Fuller, Web Editor

Students were forced to forge their own path into the building on Feb. 14, working their way around 46 pairs of shoes. The shoes were set up to symbolize and pay respect to victims of the six biggest high school shootings since Columbine in 1999. Each pair of shoes was labeled with the name of a victim. The demonstration was planned by seniors Leah Zukosky and Rowan Hoel, along with Elizabeth Goodbrake, Women’s Empowerment Club sponsor.

“We really wanted to do a project for the Women’s Empowerment Club, and we knew that the anniversary of the Parkland shooting was coming up,” Zukosky said. “We wanted to do something to not only remember the victims, but also bring awareness to gun violence.”

The idea originated one day in class, and quickly became a plan over lunch.

“We thought of it with Ms. Goodbrake, and we met with her to talk about it,” Hoel said. “Then we met with the superintendent and a bunch of other people at Central Office, and eventually got it approved by them.”

From there, it was time for action. The trio started planning out and organizing the logistics of their event.

“We had to get a bunch of different shoes from our closets,” Hoel said.

All 46 pairs came from Hoel’s, Zukosky’s and Goodbrake’s closets. The process was tedious, but the group was dedicated to their plan.

“The hardest part was preparing everything,” Hoel said. “We had to cut out a bunch of hearts, and that took forever.”

The hearts described the rationale for the silent protest.

Staff at U. City were informed a few days in advance about the demonstration, as well as several news stations who showed up to cover the event. However, students were not informed, which Hoel explained was done intentionally.

“We wanted there to be a shock value because we thought it would be more impactful.”

The whole point of the protest was to show that these people can’t stand for themselves, according to Leah Zukosky, senior organizer. “We went through every single name and picked a shoe that we thought went well with that name so it was more personal,” Zukosky said.
Rowan Hoel and Leah Zukosky, seniors, pass out informational Valentines to students entering school. “I thought it was very nice that they did the silent protest,” William Crow, senior, said. “It doesn’t matter which state or place you’re from, it matters how you respect the people who have died.”