Canfield, Campbell stand out as a tale of two cities

Charles Dickens apparently visited the Mahoning Valley during last Wednesday’s National School Walkout. In one community, city leaders, school administrators, educators and high school students embraced the spring of hope. In another 12 miles away, they were still trapped in a winter of despair.

One sought a season of light; the other retreated to the false safety of darkness. One was Campbell; the other was Canfield. It was indeed a tale of two cities.

Campbell Memorial High School's organized walkout by 150 students protesting gun violence in the wake of last month's tragedy in Parkland, Fla., where 17 people died in a mass shooting, stood in stark contrast to Canfield High's containment of any such demonstration to their auditorium while school buses blocked driveways and a police officer guarded the school's entrance.

For the Red Devils, it was an object lesson, as one teacher stated, in the study of Henry David Thoreau and civil disobedience. For the Cardinals (of whom it was reported 400 stayed home from school), it was the placement of risk and codes and guidelines above an expression of sympathy and humanity and frustration, something Campbell demonstrated could not only meet the valid concerns of those in Canfield, but also serve as a responsibly conducted and valuable lesson in First Amendment rights.

It is noteworthy on a demographic and socio-economic scale that Campbell, Ohio, and Parkland, Fla., could hardly be more different. Yet in spite of their differences, Campbell’s students now have an undeniable bond with their brothers and sisters in Florida. Quite ironically, facts that suggest Canfield has almost everything in common with Parkland are betrayed by curiously divergent thoughts on meaningful expression.

Thank you, Campbell students, for courageously letting the better angels of your nature be heard loud and clear. You have given the entire Mahoning Valley convincing evidence you are future leaders to watch.

And if Dickens was indeed in the Valley last Wednesday, he would have said of your decision to stage a walkout, "It is a far, far better thing that you do."

Chris Travers, Youngstown