Students organize walkout for Parkland shooting victims

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By: Tiffany Lewis | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 13th, 2018

(Image Source: MGN)

BAINBRIDGE, Ga. (WCTV) -- An international school walk out is scheduled for Wednesday, March 14th at 10:00 a.m.

The walkout will be in honor of the Parkland school shooting victims.

Students from elementary school through collegiate students are encouraged to participate.

Some school districts in the Big Bend area are encouraging students to walk out if they choose, while others say students will be punished if they choose to do so.

Thomas County schools say they will hold a moment of silence for 170 seconds, 10 seconds for each victim, and any student who wishes to walk out will be walked to a designated area on campus.

They say that if students choose to leave campus they could face punishment.

Lowndes County Schools are encouraging students to do 17 acts of kindness, one for each victim.

They say they don't have any designated plans in case students choose to walk out.

Decatur County Schools are encouraging students not to leave classrooms, but instead holding a moment of silence. They say that if students choose to leave classrooms they could face punishment as well.

Parents of students in Decatur County say they support their students right to walk out.

"They absolutely have the right, they're the ones that are in danger in schools," said Bainbridge resident Tina west, "I used to be a school bus driver, and if I was still doing it I would let them on my bus if they wanted to walk out. I would be right behind them."

"I believe the student should be able to make their own choice, they are the ones who would face the danger in the schools so they should be able to walk out of them if they choose," said Bainbridge resident Luther Hayes.

The walk out is being held at schools all the way from Hawaii to Australia.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 13, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- On Wednesday, students across the country will be participating in the National School Walkout, marking the one-month anniversary of a deadly mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that claimed the lives of 17 people.

Some are calling the walkout a 17-minute protest over Congressional inaction on gun violence since the tragedy occurred. Others say the walkout is an opportunity to reflect and honor the victims.

Local school district have announced plans for Wednesday regarding the National Walkout.

Valdosta City Schools says high school students will participate in the walkout beginning at 10 a.m. The district says students will hold a moment of silence, and afterward, students are invited to express their opinions on gun control.

School officials in Miller County, Georgia say there are no walkout events planned at this time because they have not received any requests from students. However, the superintendent tells WCTV that they would support it if students expressed interest. School officials say they are working on safety plans for buildings.

Thomas County school officials say they have no official plans to participate, but added that if students decide to walk out, they’ll be having extra staff set up. Students will not allowed to walk off campus.

Cook County school officials say they will be holding a 170-second moment of silence, but have no plans to participate in the walkout.

Hamilton County Schools says they have a plan in place if students do decide to take part in the walkout, but nothing is officially planned.

School officials in Calhoun, Franklin, Dixie say they have no walkout activities planned.

In Decatur County, School Superintendent Tim Cochran sent the following letter to parents, students and staff:

"The recent school tragedies are a horrible thing that our country has had to experience. Our hearts and prayers go out to all of the families affected by these senseless acts of violence. Decatur County Schools work daily with our local authorities to make our schools a place where everyone can feel safe and focus on the business of education.

"We understand that national groups want to politicize on recent actions and are asking students to walk out of school on March 14th in honor of the victims lost in the Florida school shooting. Asking thousands of students to disrupt the school day is not only a violation of the code of conduct but also causes a very unsafe environment for all of our students and our staff. Disrupting school is certainly not a respectful act.

"We appreciate any students that wish to remember those lost and we value their desire to honor them. To help our students that wish to honor those that lost their lives we will have a moment of silence in their honor at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday March 14th. After the moment of silence our entire faculty across the district will discuss with students the importance of being proactive about school violence and letting school officials or other adults know if they suspect someone is considering doing something to harm others. We will also discuss the importance of not excluding others, not picking on or bullying others. Bettering community starts with us and how we treat others and it is up to us to be friendly to all that we encounter; no matter what differences we may have.

"Please help us explain to your students the proper way to conduct themselves and to not allow others to convince them to disrupt the school. Any disruptions will be addressed and handled based on the code of conduct. If they want to truly make a difference in our community it begins with respect and collaboration and beginning the appropriate dialogue such as the kind that we will have on March 14th.

"If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to contact your student's school administration."

Several of the school districts in the WCTV viewing area are on spring break this week and are therefore not participating in the National Walkout.

We have also reached out and are awaiting word back from several other school districts that are in session this week to determine what their plans are for Wednesday.