National walkouts at schools expected Wednesday

Parish School Board

Organizers say almost 3,000 walkouts are set in the biggest demonstration yet of the student activism that has emerged following the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

When 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz, armed with a semi-automatic rifle, took an Uber ride to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on a sunny February afternoon, pulled the fire alarm in Building 12 and began shooting - ultimately killing 17 students and staff, and wounding 17 more - it wasn't the first time deadly shots rang out in the hallways of an American school. Some planned roadside rallies to honor shooting victims and protest violence.

The walkout is organized by Women's March Youth EMPOWER, and the group is calling for those who support the effort to walk out of schools for 17 minutes at 10 a.m.in each time zone. Officials at Boston Public Schools said they arranged a day of observance Wednesday with a variety of activities "to provide healthy and safe opportunities for students to express their views, feelings and concerns".

Egg Harbor Township High School, Atlantic City High School, Pleasantville High School, Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Mainland Regional High School and Middle Township High School have also committed to holding a walkout event Wednesday. Vineland has warned students they may face disciplinary action if they leave the building. Others were to hold demonstrations in school gyms or on football fields.

In Mount Morris, the student council has been meeting with high school principal Jessie Hamilton to hash out the details of an assembly centered on the issue of school safety, said Superintendent Greg Bump.

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Last month, almost 1,000 students at Southern Regional High School and 1,000 more at the district middle school participated in a student-organized walkout to protest gun violence and memorialize the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. Wednesday's walkout marks one month since the tragedy.

Students from the elementary to college level are taking up the call in a variety of ways.

"They are meeting again today during their lunch to finalize things", said Bump in an email Tuesday morning.

"We're not exactly being heard", Gordon added. The district has its own police force of 13 officers. While students have the right to free speech, schools may discipline those who participate if what happens is deemed disruptive to classes.

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