East Hawaii students join peers nationwide and walk out in protest against gun violence

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Hilo High School students raise their hands against gun violence as they participate in National Walkout Day Wednesday on their campus in Hilo.
  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Hilo High School student organizer Lucy Ramirez

  • HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Waiakea Intermediate School students participate in National Walkout Day Wednesday outside of campus along Puainako Street in Hilo.
  • Hilo Intermediate School students gather Wednesday in support of National Walkout Day. (Photo courtesy of Malia Staszkow)
  • Hilo High School students on Wednesday raise their hands against gun violence as they participate in National Walkout Day on their campus in Hilo.

    HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald Hilo High School students raise their hands against gun violence as they participate in National Walkout Day Wednesday on their campus in Hilo.

  • Photos by HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald

    Waiakea Intermediate School students participate in National Walkout Day on Wednesday outside campus along Puainako Street in Hilo.

  • Waiakea High School students sign a banner against school violence on Wednesday during the school’s National Walkout Day event. (Photo by Kirsten Johnson)

When Teryn Tominaga and her Waiakea Intermediate School peers began organizing for National Walkout Day, she said they hoped maybe 40 or 50 of their classmates would participate.

And yet when the time came Wednesday morning to leave class and head to the school entrance to wave signs along Puainako Street, between 80 and 100 students joined in.


Many brought signs with statements such as “Fear has no place in our school” and “Stop gun violence” as cars passing by honked in support.

“It was really cool,” Teryn, 13, told the Tribune-Herald. “At first, we went out and I didn’t see anybody. But then, people started streaming out from the buildings, and I was like, ‘Wow.’ It was just really cool how many people supported this. It felt like we were doing something bigger than we’ve ever done before.”

Students at Waiakea Intermediate joined their peers throughout East Hawaii and the rest of the country Wednesday to participate in the nationwide protest against gun violence. The event took place on the one-month anniversary of the deadly shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

The protest was championed under the Women’s March Youth EMPOWER organization. It took different forms at each school. Many walkouts began at 10 a.m., the designated start time across all time zones. Many also lasted 17 minutes, to honor the 17 people who died in the Florida massacre.

Participation was voluntary, but the state Department of Education advised schools in a letter earlier this month to create a designated “walkout area” for students wanting to participate.

The DOE said it “supports students’ constitutional rights to a peaceful assembly and free expression” but added “disorderly conduct that disrupts school operations” would not be acceptable, and students who left campus during the event would be marked with an unexcused tardiness or absence.

It was unclear Wednesday if any students were disciplined, but at least two East Hawaii schools — Waiakea Intermediate and Pahoa High and Intermediate School experienced students walking out at a different time than school administrators planned.

At Waiakea Intermediate, students were reportedly instructed to walk out at 10:20 a.m. — during a recess period — but many instead opted to walk out at 10 a.m. to correspond with their peers nationally.

One Waiakea Intermediate parent, Regina Rose, told the Tribune-Herald her daughter wanted to walk out at 10 a.m. but was not allowed by her teacher to leave the classroom.

At Pahoa, students were reportedly instructed to walk out at 10 a.m. if they chose to participate because it fell during a break period. However, many students instead opted to walk out an hour later during actual class time. They circulated word of their plan to walk out at 11 a.m. via social media.

“We have recess at 10 a.m., so it wouldn’t have made as big of an impact,” senior Celest Eugenio, who is Pahoa’s student body president, told the Tribune-Herald. “It wouldn’t really be a walkout if we were already out of class.”

About 100 Pahoa students participated in the second walkout. About 25 students reportedly took part in the earlier one.

“My favorite part was seeing all the students come together and show their support for the Florida shooting (victims),” said Pahoa seventh-grader Rubi Estrella, who participated in the first walkout and held a sign that read “#EnoughIsEnough.”

“While I was walking down, a couple girls next to me were complaining because it was raining,” she added. “And I told them, ‘What would you rather do? Get wet or not live?’ And they decided they’d rather stand in the rain.”

School violence “affects us because even if we haven’t had an actual gun threat, we did have (a threat recently made) on social media where someone posted about shooting at our school,” Eugenio said. “Practically half our school didn’t attend that day, so everyone was pretty scared … (Pahoa) is a small school … we just want to inform everyone here about these issues.”

At Hilo High School, about 50 students gathered in the campus plaza during lunch recess. Many wore orange ribbons on their wrists, a color said to represent gun violence prevention.

The rally included an opportunity for students to read aloud letters they wrote about school safety and gun violence.

“Why do we students have to go to school and fear for our safety?” one student read aloud from his letter addressed to Gov. David Ige. “… A place where we are required to go by law and where we are promised safety and education. Why do I have to wake up and dread going to school because some kid can walk into school with a gun in his bag and start unloading on unprotected children?”

In all, at least 200 students wrote letters, according to Hilo High junior Lucy Ramirez, who helped organize the Hilo High rally.

“At our school, most of the students feel pretty safe,” Ramirez said. “We have a lot of security guards, and most of the staff is pretty good about going around and talking to us. … We just hope to raise awareness about what is happening, and hopefully it doesn’t happen to us. We want to just get students really motivated to fight gun violence.”

At Waiakea High School, hundreds of students flooded the campus quad at the designated walkout time for a short ceremony led by student government leaders. Many students wrote on paper butterflies their “goal” to make others feel more included.

The Waiakea event also included reading aloud the names of the Parkland victims, along with a moment of silence.

After the ceremony, students had an opportunity to sign their names on a banner that read, “I take a stand against school violence.”


“I was actually tearing up a little,” said Waiakea High’s student body president Leira Joyce Vea after the event. “I was trying to hold it together. Almost all the sidewalks were filled. It was just really amazing to see our school come together.”

Email Kirsten Johnson at

    1. Hilo Jack March 15, 2018 7:36 am

      Jesus is a myth that never existed.

      But I am sure you would think your “god” wants you to kill other people.

    2. Hilo Jack March 15, 2018 2:36 pm

      Think this “jesus” guy you love to brag about approves of the orange haired baboon cheating on all three of his wives as well as his divorce from wife no 1 and 2?

      And now do you think this “jesus” approves of the half breed offspring of the orange haired baboon who had to go and procreate 5 more slime balls of pure human $hit now that Donnie Jr’s wife left him too??

    3. Hilo Jack March 15, 2018 2:43 pm

      In all seriousness, if you had any formal education of any kind as well as be a good devout “jesus” boy, you would know that the fable myth of this make believe human is that he died for YOUR SINS.

      So, even if the fake man made up “jesus” had a gun and managed to live 2018 years, once he met a total cretin piece of pure dog $hit like you, he would beg to be hung on a cross.

  1. diverdave March 15, 2018 7:52 am

    “They circulated word of their plan to walk out at 11 a.m. via social media.”
    As I have continually said, it is SOCIAL MEDIA that these kids spend a large part of their days on, and is the most contributory reason for all the violence in the schools, NOT GUNS.
    Yes, we should make guns, of all kinds, harder to get. But, it is the access to SOCIAL MEDIAS that can reach 10s of thousands of children and influence their non-discerning minds within seconds of “posting”. For many children, 5-6 hours a day are spent making poor put-down comments of classmates, posting of compromising pictures, and putting out unfounded lies. Kids are not only committing crimes against others because of these posts, but are committing suicide due to them.
    It’s time to take away these venues to minors who have not formed the maturity to properly know proper etiquette on these forums.
    Just to today: “Morgan Roof, the younger sister of the Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, was arrested after taking two weapons to school and posting to Snapchat that she hoped students protesting against gun violence in a nationwide walkout “get shot.”
    Time to put away the cell phones, and start cracking a book instead. There should be cell phones for kids that only make phone calls, NOT attack others in the most malicious of ways.

    1. Hilo Jack March 15, 2018 9:09 am

      These kids will in the very near future be determining your life as an old fu$k

      I suggest you start thinking way more differently than you do now.

      1. diverdave March 16, 2018 6:08 am

        Ya right. The next time we elect a President then we should elect a 15 year old because they know everything!

        1. Hilo Jack March 16, 2018 7:14 am

          After watching the orange haired baboon in action for over a year, I think maybe a pack of 2nd graders could go much much better!

          Consider that 15 year old will be voting in 3 years.

          1. diverdave March 16, 2018 7:47 am

            People like you make my point for me.
            If you have so little respect for the office that all you can do is make personal attacks and name call, what example are you setting for the youth of today that bully, degrade, and name call put downs of their classmates on social media. Shame on you and your ilk that do NOT set a proper example.

          2. Hilo Jack March 16, 2018 8:30 am

            I am showing the EXACT AMOUNT of respect YOU gave our prior POTUS.

            I think a pack of 2nd graders would know telling the PM of Canada a straight up lie would be wrong.

            But continue praising the orange haired lying cheating baboon all you want.

            The real question is will you visit him in jail?

          3. Hilo Jack March 16, 2018 8:33 am

            PS. I think our youth know who is the real bully here

            That’s why we see them standing up to archaic thinking people like you.

          4. Hilo Jack March 16, 2018 8:39 am

            PSPS. I’ll start to show respect when we have a POTUS that deserves respect as well as earns respect.

            Right now our current POTUS deserves a kick in the balls and a sock rammed down his fat wide open mouth.

          5. Hilo Jack March 16, 2018 10:13 am


            Do you think it’s proper for a POTUS to terminate the employment of ANY Cabinet Member on Twitter?

            Would you like it if your boss did that to you?

            Do you think ANY POTUS is proper in calling people Senators and Congress members – even using racial epithets and then calling Heads of State(s) names like Rocket Man or Pocahontas?

            Or making up false statistics and saying them to Heads of State?

            I can’t imagine anyone who would seriously be POTUS doing that.

            But I can see that when I do that it offends you. But when the orange haired baboon does it you jump with glee.

            I believe the term in your case would be properly called “snowflake”

            A POTUS gets respect when he deserves it and earns it.


          6. Hilo Jack March 16, 2018 2:49 pm


            Asked at today’s press briefing at WH:

            Is Russia a friend or foe?

            Grossly incompetent mouth piece could/would not answer.

          7. Hilo Jack March 16, 2018 3:05 pm


            Do you seriously think the orange haired baboon has respect for the office he holds?

            He called the WH a dump too!

          8. Hilo Jack March 17, 2018 9:53 am

            PSPDPSPSPS I set the same example by bullying, degrading and name calling put downs of fucking head up your ass shit for brains idiots like you as our POTUS does.

  2. Ed Nelson March 15, 2018 1:56 pm

    We need are guns to take bake the government, foreign or domestic and it looks like the fbi, nsa, cia, doj need to go and maybe we will get the constitution back!

    1. Hilo Jack March 15, 2018 2:26 pm

      You should learn how to spell first.

      Maybe then you might understand how stupid and baseless your claim is.

    2. Hilo Jack March 17, 2018 7:08 am

      Good edit. But still need to learn spelling and grammar.

      HINT: our

      1. Ed Nelson March 17, 2018 8:08 am

        it the great school here, they can’t teach kids shit, like the constitution or spelling! but a union teacher will teach you kids why the deep state wants(Operation Mockingbird) and vote for hillary , I fought for this county rights and kids are/our giving are/our rights to the democrat unions mother fu-kers..the calm before the storm, get ready it coming. btw are you a bot? you sure act like one on every comment you have to give you 2 cents?

        1. Hilo Jack March 17, 2018 9:14 am

          Nope. Just a person with very high intellect.

          Something you clearly do not possess.

          1. Ed Nelson March 17, 2018 9:28 am

            why do you show such disrespect with every post? to every person on certain subjects? just fuck off!

          2. Hilo Jack March 17, 2018 9:36 am

            You get respect when you deserve it or earn it.

            To claim that we need to get rid of our law enforcement institutions in order to get back our constitution shows that you have a complete lack of understanding the constitution at all.

            And as such, you deserve zero respect. As well showing you are really a stupid idiot that has no clue as to what the constitution is, says or means.

          3. Ed Nelson March 17, 2018 10:14 am

            they stop metadata and put down your guns, camera, dna, facial recognition…. cocaine is just the tip of the union iceberg to our janitors , as you say law enforcement ? look at obama fbi, doj, cia……. all are going to JAIL,so hilo jack me off / A.I bot spelling is do to a stroke, so it not nice to fuck with a handicap person or make fun of them? and you don’t know what the constitution means to me, there was a time that I would give my life for it! not now! they don’t even teach it in our schools. they/you want to change it ?? I’m fighting with a bot! wtf

          4. Hilo Jack March 17, 2018 10:39 am

            Again your asshole and your mouth prove to be interchangeable!

            Ignorance is clearly your strong suit.

          5. Ed Nelson March 17, 2018 10:49 am


          6. Hilo Jack March 17, 2018 9:37 am

            PS You can fuck off just as well.

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