YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Local students added their voices to others from around the country Wednesday in an effort to bring attention to the issue of school safety, mental health concerns and in recognition of the students who were killed in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
It’s been nearly a month since investigators say Nikolas Cruz stormed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School with an AR-15-style rifle and killed 17 students and faculty members.
In the weeks since the shooting, survivors and their allies have turned their grief into activism and advocacy. Part of that effort was Wednesday’s National School Walkout Day.
The following schools participated in their own ways:
The district had a Safety Assembly for the Austintown Middle School and Fitch High School to hear from administration and Austintown police about procedures in place surrounding school safety.
The assembly started by students reading the names of the victims in the Florida school shooting.
The original plan was to practice an evacuation drill, but due to the cold temperatures, the event moved the gym.
Students sat in the bleachers as teachers and law enforcement taught them safety plans. They stressed the importance of, “If you see something, say something.”
“We want our students, if you hear something about anything that could be a safety issue or a student harming themselves or others, we definitely want you to let an adult know,” said Superintendent Jeremy Batchelor.
Students were shown a short video made by student leaders. There was also a lockdown safety drill during which time 17 chimes were heard in memory of the victims of the Parkland, Florida shooting. There was also a “clap out” for Boardman safety forces and voter registration for students.
At Campbell High School, 294 students walked out of class for 17 minutes.
They said they were also honoring the lives of the 17 people killed in the deadly Florida high school shooting. They’re also pressing lawmakers to pass stricter gun control laws.
“Gun violence is bad, in general,” said senior Ross Clark. “Bad influence on people, just needs to stop. If we don’t do something about it, there won’t be a stop.”
At Howland High School, students gathered in the front hall of the high school for 17 minutes to bring awareness to violence in schools.
One of the schools which focused on the National Walkout Day as a memorial was Hubbard High School.
The idea was brought up at a student council meeting. It gained support from the students and even the school district.
The memorial included a Hubbard student or staff member giving a short talk about each of the 17 people killed. Then, they would light a candle to remember them.
At 10 a.m., students at the high school read the names of the Parkland, Florida victims. One name was read every minute as part of a candlelight vigil.
They reflected and then burned a candle in memory of each of the 17 victims.
Liberty students said the school shooting has been a tough issue to handle.
“It was very saddening and disgusting that someone could be so cruel and mean to do something like that. It makes you appreciate the people you have, ’cause you never know when you’re going to lose them,” said senior Amber Bowie.
Students at the high school wore orange shirts and painted a rock orange in solidarity with the victims of Stoneman Douglas High School.
Then, about 40 students boarded a bus for Columbus to present letters they wrote to lawmakers, asking for funding to make their buildings more secure.
Niles McKinley High School’s National Honor Society organized 17 minutes of silence on National School Walkout Day. National Honor Society members (via the PA) shared names and information about each one of the people killed in Florida.
Students were also encouraged to wear orange on the day to promote safety in schools.
Junior and senior high school students participated in 17 random acts of kindness throughout the day.
Students with permission slips from parents were able to silently leave class at 10 a.m. for a short demonstration.
Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past students organized a 17-minute school walk-out/rally at all three Youngstown City high schools at 10 a.m.
The purpose of the walkout/rally was to honor the 17 people who were killed and to support the students of Stoneman Douglas High School. They are also asking Congress and the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation that bans assault rifles and requires a background check for anyone purchasing a gun.