Students in at least two Cumberland County high schools are planning a walkout on the one-month anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Students at Carlisle High School and Boiling Springs High School have confirmed plans for a 10 a.m. walkout on March 14 to memorialize those killed in the attack and to bring attention to the issues of violence and gun control.
Aidan Checkett, one of five students leading the planning effort for the walkout, said the students at Carlisle were horrified when they heard about the shooting in Parkland, but were also inspired by the response of the students directly affected by the tragedy.
Seeing those students take the risk to speak out for their cause “snapped us out of this malaise that we were in” and made the Carlisle students passionate to speak out as well, Checkett said.
— CHS Walkout (@CHS_Walkout) February 27, 2018The other student-leaders of the event are Michael Smith, Collin Willard, Maddy Starling and Ava Wendelken.
“We really want to send a message to our local community and, as part of the broader movement, to Congress that this is something that really needs to be done after years of inaction,” Checkett said.
Students at Boiling Springs had a similar response to the shooting at Parkland, according to Asia Whittenberger, who spoke on behalf of the students organizing the schoolwide effort. They had heard about the student walkout that had been backed by the Womens March, and started asking around to see who would be willing to participate in a way that would “not be disrespectful just to get out of class.”
A statement posted to the CHS Walkout Twitter account, which was created last week, reads that the students are “sickened, furious and terrified at the murder of 17 fellow students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.”
The statement also says the tragedy is one out of scores of shootings that have occurred since Columbine, “marking a repeated trend of murder with continued inaction from lawmakers.”
“To this day, essentially nothing has been done to prevent the deaths of children, or all others brutally and unjustifably slaughtered throughout the years. Enough is enough,” the statement read.
The statement continues to say that the students “understand and respect” the significance of the right to bear arms, as expressed in the Second Amendment, to many Americans, but that something must change.
“We demand sensible gun control that protects our right to life free from fear, and that does not also infringe upon our second amendment rights,” the statement read.
At both schools, all the students who wish to participate will leave their classrooms at 10 a.m.
Carlisle students plan to hold a memorial for the victims at Parkland that will last about 10 minutes. The memorial will be followed by speakers on the topics of gun control, violence and the changes the students want to see in their schools.
Whittenberger said students plan to make the program at the Boiling Springs walkout last 17 minutes, one minute for each of those killed in Parkland.
The students have discussed their plans with the administration, which Whittenberger said has been cooperative while not taking a stance on the issues being raised by the students.
One key concern for the students is safety, since Whittenberger acknowledges there is vulnerability in having hundreds of students gather in an open space. To that end, leaders of the school clubs recently met with the administration to assure the walkout could be done in a safe manner.
“The whole point is to protest gun violence and, in any public place you go, there’s a chance of being shot,” she said.
Carlisle students are also working with the administration to ensure the safety of the students, and Checkett was adamant that the action the students are taking is not to protest the school itself.
“We are walking out of school to emphasize the loss of students at school,” he said.
While the administration at East Pennsboro is not aware of any student plans for a walk-out, Acting Superintendent Greg Milbrand is leading focus groups of teachers, parents, students and community members to discuss current safety and security protocol as well as to brainstorm additional student supports.
Shippensburg Area School District Superintendent Jerry Wilson said a few students at the high school are discussing an activity on March 14, and that the district will “work with the students to exercise student expression as outlined in our policies.”
Likewise, the administration at Big Spring High School is working with its student leadership on plans for that date.
“Our guiding focus will be the safety of our students and staff. We will have a firm plan prior to the date that has been collaboratively planned with student leaders, administrators and staff,” Superintendent Richard Fry said.
Camp Hill Superintendent Patricia Craig said students at the district’s high school “have not indicated they are planning to participate in a walkout.”
The Sentinel did not receive replies from other schools in the county as of press time.