A high school in Pennsylvania issued detentions to the 225 students who participated on March 14 in the national walkout to protest gun violence in the United States. But the #Pennridge225 — the hashtag now in use to describe the protesting Pennridge High School students — are treating detention as protest and getting high-profile support for their efforts.
When the first 46 students showed up on Saturday to serve their detention, they may have refrained from speaking — but that doesn't mean they were quiet. Linking arms and sitting in a conjoined circle on the floor, they demonstrated solidarity and a sustained commitment to advocating for gun reform. The students wore pins and taped paper with the names of gun violence victims written on them, and brought flowers to commemorate those who have been lost.
Video of how they served out their two-hour detention went viral on Twitter. Posted under the username @NeverAgainPenn, the 19-second clip had been retweeted over 32,000 times as of Wednesday morning. And several celebrities joined in the online chorus of overwhelming support.
"These kids were given detention for the walkout. This is what they did with their time," Alyssa Milano tweeted. "Change is coming. I can feel it. And as a mom...I appreciate it so very much."
Other famous names chimed in. Chelsea Clinton retweeted the video. Actor Michael Kelly quoted the Pennridge tweet and commented simply "Love our #Youth." Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt compared the teens to a "Breakfast Club made up of only badasses."
According to the Morning Call, as the rest of the 225 students serve their detentions, they're planning similar protests. The students who protested Saturday reported they received no additional behavior citations for how they went about passing their two-hour detention.
One Pennridge senior told the Morning Call she was hoping for more from the school's administration. Anna Sophie Tinneney said, "It was disappointing that our school teaches us to be like Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., people who stood up for what they believed in. And they weren’t going to let us do the same.”
The school informed students ahead of the walkout that anyone who participated would face the regular consequence for leaving school grounds without prior approval. That appears to be exactly what happened, with the 225 walkers receiving Saturday detention.
As an alternative to the walkout, Pennridge High School had offered a 17-minute assembly honoring the victims of the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Officials said approximately 800 students opted to attend the assembly instead.
In a video post, a Pennridge student outlined why they chose to walk out. "We call for mental health evaluations, we call for background checks, and we call for gun control reform," she says. The student goes on to say they will "demand that Congress take action because we have had enough."
In solidarity with the protesting students inside the school, several gathered outside Pennridge High School on Saturday. One of them was senior Sean Jenkins, who will serve his detention in April. Jenkins told the Morning Call that he and other students were "OK with being punished." But he went on to say, "we were punished for speaking our mind and we want to show students we support them in their fight to end gun violence.”
Signaling their devotion to peace, some of the Pennridge students appeared to borrow a symbol of protests from past eras. Many laid flowers in the middle of their detention circle, and outside one sign read, "Flower power not gun powder." ("Flower power" is most associated with the Hippie Movement of the 1960s and '70s.)
With a new Instagram page and plans to send ambassadors to the March for Our Lives, it looks like the #Pennridge225 are planning to stay active politically long after detention ends.