Walk out of school day 2018: Alabama students leaving class to protest gun violence
Schools across Alabama are responding to the call for students to walk out of their classrooms for 17 minutes to protest gun violence.
The #ENOUGH: National School Walkout will begin on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in each time zone to protest the lack of action from lawmakers in the wake of the 14 students and three staff members killed on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Most school officials AL.com spoke with said they were trying to find ways for their students to participate, but not necessarily walk out of their classes.
Two Alabama school districts, Birmingham City and Macon County Schools, have announced plans to allow their high school students to actually walk out of class as part of the national event.
Between eight and 10 Alabama schools are listed on one of the two national websites (here and here) keeping t rack of participating schools. It's unclear how reliable the list is, though, as AL.com has found one school listed as hosting a walkout is actually on spring break this week.
Here are a few of the plans we have found. Let us know if we missed your school's plans.
Chelsea High School sophomores Kennedy Edwards and Katie Pulmano spoke with AL.com on Monday about the walkout they've helped plan for Wednesday morning.
The two students worked with Principal Wayne Trucks to plan a program where students will walk to the school's flagpole at 10 a.m. to remember, pray for, and honor the Parkland victims for 17 minutes.
Trucks told AL.com the students have been working hard. "I have been very impressed with their efforts to focus on school safety," he said.
Kennedy said she wishes she didn't have to worry about being safe at school. "It's this cloud over our head that I want to get rid of," ; Kennedy said.
Katie said gun safety doesn't only affect students and isn't a Democrat versus Republican issue.
"The main thing I care about is people's safety," Katie said. "I couldn't just sit back and watch a new mass shooting occur every week."
Last week, Shelby County Assistant Superintendent Lewis Brooks said they don't plan to punish students but are encouraging students to work with their principals on alternatives to a walkout.
Murphy High School sophomore Galina Sawyer said a group of students there worked with the principal to create an event where students can gather in the school and 17 students will each read the name of one of the Parkland victims.
Galina said she wanted to organize an event at her school partly because she is fearful at school. "Going to school is kind of scary," she said. "When I go into a classroom, one of my first thoughts is 039;where will I hide'" if a shooting occurs. "It's always on my mind."
After a student fired shots from a gun on the school campus in January, she said she became even more fearful.
Galina wants to see action from state and federal lawmakers and has written to them to let them know she and her friends are watching what they do.
She said she doesn't want to get rid of all guns but raising the age limit to purchase a gun and providing more supports for students with mental health issues are actions that can be taken to reduce the risk.
Mobile County Public Schools spokesperson Rena Havner Philips said Superintendent Martha Peek has told students and principals that "as long as the students work with the principals on planning the event and as long as they are respectful," they can participate in events connected with the walkout.
Macon County School Superintendent Jacqueline Brooks said students there will be allowed to walk out at 10 a.m. if they want to participate. Brooks said they plan to honor Huffman High student Courtlin Arrington by adding one minute to the 17 minutes of silence for a total of 18 minutes.
In a notice sent to employees, Brooks said, "This is a great opportunity for social studies teachers to connect conversations regarding the constitution, our first amendment, historical versus modern walkouts and protests, the Voting Rights Act, the effects of voices and votes in elections, and youth advocacy."
Baldwin County School Superintendent Eddie Tyler said his district will hold a "Moment of Honor" in each of the middle and high schools. "Each school will halt classes and stand in honor of those in Parkland while the names, grades and age of those who passed are read aloud over the intercom system," a notice on the district's website states. Tyler discouraged the walkout, warning students they would be disciplined appropriately if they walked out of school.
Florence High School in Florence City Schools will host a "Walkup," according to a notice from Principal Roderick Sheppard. The notice states a Walkup is "where students will walk up to 14 students and 3 adults that they would not normally speak to and say something nice, and or spark up a conversation. In addition, there will be 17 student desks set up in the commons area. Each desk will have the name of one victim and a box to place a note or card to their family."
Huntsville City Schools Superintendent Matt Akin told WHNT schools there are planning educational activities and will not be walking out of school.
Limestone County Schools is encouraging students in all county schools to wear black for "Black Out Against School Violence" according to a flyer shared with AL.com.
An assembly will start at 10 a.m. at each school, to "observe the 17 that lost their lives on Feb 14 and discuss communications between students and teachers that are available at each school. The assembly will last 17 minutes at each school."
Birmingham City Schools, in a press release on Tuesday, said they are supporting students who want to participate in the walkout. "As the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement," the statement reads, "Birmingham understands the power of peaceful protest. That is why Birmingham City Schools is supporting students who are taking action for change."
Adults will supervise the walkout, according to the statement. Students there will add one minute to the original 17 minutes to honor Huffman High senior Courtlin Arrington, killed last week on the school's campus. Junior Michael Jerome Barber has been charged with manslaughter and a gun-related charge in Arrington's death.
&q uot;We commend our students for taking an active role in bringing about positive change," said Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent. "These students are the future leaders of our country, and we want them to know the power of their voices."
Leeds City Schools Superintendent John Moore said Monday that he expects 500 students at Leeds High School will participate in a remembrance program, but not a walkout, for Parkland students.
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Craig Pouncey said Monday, "We have a board policy on that," meaning students will be disciplined according to the code of conduct. Spokesperson Whitlee Lusk said, "Principals are making that decision based on what's best for their school. We don't want our students to walk outside and be unsafe."
McAdory Middle School in Jefferson County tweeted their plans for a Walkup similar to that being held in Florenc e High School. They will wear purple to honor Huffman student Courtlin Arrington.
Trussville City Schools Superintendent Pattie Neill said Monday that she hadn't heard much about the walkout from students or teachers in her district, but is leaving it up to principals to determine how to work with students.
The Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, enrolls students from all over Alabama. Officials there sent a notice to parents Feb. 28 announcing their intent to participate by allowing students to gather outside the building for the walkout.
Hoover City Schools students at both high schools held remembrances on Tuesday, and students at Hoover High will help students write to lawmakers during lunch on Wednesday, senior Satura Dudley said.
Eight school districts, including Tuscaloosa City, Tuscaloosa County, Madison City, Auburn City and Montgomery County, are o bserving spring break this week.
Sparkman High School in Madison County Schools held a walkout on Feb. 28, according to Principal Chris Shaw. Student led the event where the names of the 17 shooting victims in Parkland were read.
The Women's March Youth EMPOWER is holding a virtual walkout on social media for those who can't participate in person.
The Alabama Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent an open letter to Alabama educators addressing what the limits of punishment can be for students who walk out of class and leaving the door open for them to intervene if needed.
In part, the letter reads: "We want to remind those educators that the Constitution forbids disciplining students more harshly for politically motivated conduct than for similar, non-political behavior. The ACLU of Alabama may intervene if a student who leaves school as an act of political pr otest faces more severe punishment than a classmate who would, for example, leave class to meet friends or eat lunch off campus."
In addition to the National School Walkout on March 14, a National March for Our Lives will be held on Saturday, March 24 in more than 700 cities worldwide.
The March was created in the wake of the Parkland shooting. The purpose of the March, according to the website is "to demand that [students'] lives and safety become a priority and that we end gun violence and mass shootings in our schools today."
Survivors of the Parkland shooting will participate in the national march being held in Washington, D.C.
Students are taking the lead in organizing the marches, with marches being held in Birmingham, Dothan, Mobile, Florence, Huntsville, Montgomery, Selma, and Jasper.Source: Google News