Why Seattle elementary school students made a peace sign on National Walkout Day

As thousands of Western Washington students walked out of class in solidarity of a national demonstration for safety in schools, elementary kids were among those taking action.

>> Related: Thousands of Washington students walkout of class; here's schools that participated 

Chopper 7 flew over Seattle during Wednesday's National Walkout Day and captured a Fremont elementary students creating a human peace sign in a school lawn. Three hours after posting that video to the KIRO 7 Facebook page, more than 25,000 people watched the video; the comments included concerns and praise for young students getting involved like teenagers demanding gun control.

It's a debate that's been weeks in the making between parents and on social media, leading up to Wednesday's event. So KIRO 7 called B.F. Day Elementary School and talked to Principal Stan Jaskot about the process of students getting involved in an event that came on the one-month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida school shooting that killed 17 people.

"Staff and students wanted to do something to participate in the day of action," Jaskot said. "We didn't want to focus on gun safety. What we did talk about was how civil action shapes policies and that small actions of many people bring about some change."

>> In a live town hall on KIRO 7 News at 7 p.m., we'll have a thoughtful, balanced discussion on gun control and gun rights -- with insight from all sides. Watch on-air or online here

In days leading up to the school's event, Jaskot said that while fourth and fifth graders at his school are aware of the concern of guns in schools, while also being justice and civic oriented, they still have underdeveloped minds. It's why in lessons around the school action, instead of talking about gun violence they focused on how historical figures and events -- like Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement -- have reversed injustices.




About 300 students attend B.F. Day. Its entire student body joined to make the peace sign, that includes all grades, unlike some schools that have cut off student participation in National Walkout Day at the third grade and lower.

Some elementary schools in Western Washington have opted for "Wear Blue for Kindness Day," in which students encourage students to perform random kind acts and make new friends.

>> Related: Will students face consequences in the school walkout? What northwest families should know

But for B.F. Day Elementary School they came up with their own message.




"Peace, love, and safety," Jaskot said. "We decided to do a short march from the school to the field [about a half a block away from school]. Students made signs in arts classes and homerooms reflecting peace, love, and safety."

Jaskot said his school did notify parents event last week, with only one family asking their student stay in class. The PTA parents strongly supported the 30-minute event, and they volunteered to make a peace sign template on the lawn and supervise the event. Once the children filled in the symbol, they sang the school song, one with lyrics about caring for people "across the land." 

"We celebrated that we are together and that we value peace, love, and safety, and that every school should have that opportunity,"Janskot said. "It was a teaching moment ... The parents and kids had a great reaction. It was a tender moment."

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