Local schools prepare a "walk-in" during national school walkout day

Larry Hoffman
March 13, 2018

Students at Watchung Hills Regional High School have planned a walkout to protest the inaction regarding gun reform and to urge politicians to pass meaningful gun safety legislation on Wednesday, March 14, at 10:00 AM for 17 minutes, to honor the 17 victims who tragically lost their lives in the Parkland, Florida school shooting. "It's a silent walk out and we're not hurting anybody", says Anesha Vincent, a senior at Lafayette High School.

On Friday, April 20, the anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, they plan to leave school and walk to Riverfront Park for a rally.

Inspired by the activism they've seen from students in Parkland, Pastore and other students organized the walkout protest at AHS this week.

"In fact, they were insistent to us that we remove anyone who is being disrespectful", she said.

In the tragic aftermath of both Parkland and the August 12 Unite the Right rally, Pastore said Charlottesville-area students could use some positive empowerment. "I hope students feel like they're making a change and coming together".

At Minnesota State University, students are gathering near the fountain outside the Centennial Student Union from 10-10:30 a.m.

So the protest is more like a walk-in...

While some students are planning to walk out of their schools Wednesday in demand of school violence prevention legislation, other students are holding on-campus demonstrations. This is NOT a mandatory walkout and participation is optional. "Enough of these shootings in schools", said Braden.

High school students won't be the only local participants in the walkout.

"Seeing the students in Parkland made me realize that this might be my time to coordinate something bigger", said Megha Karthikeyan, a second-year student. "But we think this is important".

At West High School, some students plan to gather in the school auditorium during study hall.

The West student organizers also are talking about holding a lawmaker letter-writing campaign and doing other advocacy. Later, at 6 p.m., UVa's Student Council and the Minority Rights Coalition will hold a march at the McIntire Amphitheatre.

McCallum said she feels the walkout can be a "teachable moment" and allows students to have their voices heard.

We are walking out of WHRHS to show that students are unified in taking safety concerns seriously.

"We understand that they can't support any political movements or missing class", Scholl said. Following the walkout, classes will resume as normal.

"Enough of gun violence".

Charlottesville native and longtime activist Charles Alexander stressed the importance of student-led protests, as well as student-led empathy.

"We have the right to protest; it's not really a protest".

Washington High School has approximately 1,290 students.

Through speaking on topics such as "YO let it GO" and "All People Matter" and creating contests like MyHelpList, Alexander teaches students to practice empathy. "They have the solutions; we just have to listen".

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