One month to the day after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., more than 100 students of Auburn High Schools joined their peers across the country Wednesday morning in a National School Walkout.
Marchers called it a plea to Congress to tighten gun control laws and to bring to public awareness the type of gun violence that menaces not only students but everybody.
“We’re marching just to bring awareness to the situation that needs to be addressed, which is to make our schools safer,” said Asia Bol, 14, a freshman at Auburn Mountainview High School, marching with her friend, Japnoor Sandhu, also a freshman. “If the adults don’t take matters into their own hands, the kids will.”
“Obviously, we’re not asking to ban guns but obviously we’re for strict gun laws,” said Sandhu. “Seventeen people just lost their lives at a school, students and adults. Since 2013, there’ve been more than 200 school shootings. We go to school to learn; it shouldn’t be a place where we are scared. If we can’t make laws, we have to do something to change laws.”
Auburn’s marchers met on the parking lot of the School District’s Administration Building on 4th Street Northeast at 10:45 a.m. and marched to City Hall in 17-minutes, one minute for each of the Parkland victims.
Student from schools as far away as Israel and Switzerland were reported to have joined in the protest.
While many school districts were supportive of the protests, some schools reportedly threatened to punish students who participated in the walkouts.
On Tuesday, Auburn School District Superintendent Allan Spicciati explained where his district stood.
“The walkout is not a school-sponsored activity, but we do support students right to expression and free speech,” Spicciati said.
Spicciati said students who left class would be marked unexcused absent, but if their parents or parent turned in permission slips, the marks would be changed to excused absence, and students would not be disciplined for missing class.
“It’s completely student-led, and there will not be district staff on the clock as a part of that. We don’t know how many students to expect, but we have heard some students from Auburn Mountainview and Auburn High School, and perhaps other secondary-school students, plan to participate. We don’t expect many middle school students, but it’s possible, or if they have siblings those siblings may elect to do that,” Spicciati said.