One student who was punished for taking part in a school walkout, who story even inspired the governor of New York to take action, Gabrielle Anzalone, has decided to take the system into her own hands by joining her district’s school board just as she is about to graduate high school.
Anzalone, 18, attends Lindenhurst High School on Long Island and is set to graduate this upcoming June, but she already has her career aspirations set into motion. This isn’t the first time she wanted to make her voice heard; she had been inspired to run for office after she and other students were punished with extended detention for joining a March 14 walkout on the one-month anniversary of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
At the time, the school’s punishment sparked national headlines, with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo even urging the state Education Department to reverse the action on social media, writing the following on Twitter:
“New York State schools should not punish students for participating in yesterday’s gun safety walkout.”
“Today I issued a letter to State Education Commissioner Elia urging her to use Dept authority to reverse course and cease any disciplinary actions. #nationalwalkout”
Eventually, the students’ punishment was reversed, but the incident still inspired Anzalone to take action.
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“Hello, my name is Gabrielle Anzalone, I am a senior at Lindenhurst High School, and I am pleased to announce that I am officially running for the vacant seat on the Board of Education. As a board member, I will work tirelessly towards bridging the generational gap between the student body and the members serving on the board.”“The process to forging a more competent youth and a stronger nation begins in the classroom, and as such it is imperative that we take into account the needs of the students. They will not be able to achieve success if they do not feel secure or as if they are not taken seriously, which is why it is crucial to provide them with a representative who understands what is truly in their best interests. As a current student and soon-to-be alumna, I know the hopes, desires, and struggles of our community’s youth. So I implore you, join me in my endeavor, so we can give Lindenhurst students the education they deserve and bring this district closer to its full potential. Join the fight for our future here. “
In a statement with CNN, she clarified that this wasn’t an attempt to get revenge on the school board, but wanted to transform a system she felt failed to support her and the other students when she was trying to take a stand:
“As students, our voices were ironically unheard by those who are supposed to represent us and our interests. In no way am I running to spite the board. If elected, I plan to cooperate and work hard to resolve the issues in my community.”