BAR HARBOR — More than three dozen Mount Desert Island High School students and a few adult community members demonstrated against gun violence on Thursday, the day after the mass shooting at a high school in Florida.
When the school day was over, the students walked as a group to the bottom of the entrance drive, where they stood quietly for about 15 minutes. Most of them held handmade signs, some of which read “Students before guns” and “The second amendment must be amended.”
Before classes on Thursday, an assembly for all students was held in the gym. About 75 students holding signs protesting gun violence lined the main hall leading to the gym and then sat on the gym floor during the assembly.
Both of the day’s protests were organized by Dawson Burnet, a junior, and Mackenzie Miller, a senior.
“Dawson reached out to me and a few others and said he thought it would be a good way to show our support for the victims [of the Florida shootings] and how outraged we are about it, by our current government and what they are doing to keep us safe in our schools,” Miller said.
Principal Matt Haney acknowledged at the assembly that Thursday would be “a difficult day in schools across America, including our own.”
“The coming days and weeks will undoubtedly be filled with debate about the second amendment, mental health and school security,” he said. “During this time, I implore us to remember that while we may disagree on the details, the vast majority of people in this world care deeply for one another and wish to see an end to such violent tragedies.”
Both Haney and Superintendent Marc Gousse said they were proud of the students who protested.
“They did it right; they did it respectfully,” Haney said. “I’m proud of them for standing up for what they believe is right.”
Ironically, the high school had been scheduled to hold its first-ever safety lockdown drill on Thursday. Haney announced at the assembly that it was being cancelled and would be rescheduled for sometime in the near future.
He said later that, with emotions so high because of the Florida shootings, he didn’t think the drill would be as effective, and that some might see it as disrespectful.
“It is important that we have a chance to practice this,” he said. “But today wasn’t the day.”