Jacksonville-area schools to accommodate #NationalWalkoutDay

Students across America to honor 17 Parkland victims 1 month after shooting

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - One month after 14 students and three faculty members at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were killed in the nation's worst mass school shooting, students across America plan to walk out of class at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"We’ll be having 17 minutes of silence, but every minute we’ll have someone read off a biography of a student that was killed and we’ll release a balloon," said Kristen Scott, a senior at River City Science Academy.

Organizers said nearly 3,000 walkouts are planned in the biggest demonstration yet of the student activism that has emerged following the massacre.

"Being a student, I feel our safety is important to us, and that’s why we want to take a stand," Jessica Goldson, a junior at River City, said.

Some schools are simply having a safe place outside where students who decide to walk out can gather, while other schools got involved with their students to plan the walkouts.

Duval County Public Schools told News4Jax they are not against students participating, as long as it’s done safely.

In addition to Duval, St. Johns, Putnam and Glynn counties are accommodating students who have organized events.. Union County will hold a silent meditation first thing in the morning, but there will be no walkout. 

Camden County told News4Jax it will not be participating. 

Nassau, Bradford, Baker and Ware counties have not replied to questions about their plans for Wednesday. Clay, Columbia and Flagler counties are on spring break. 

The student organizers of the walkout at River City Science Academy are thankful the school is allowing them to come together with their fellow students. They hope schools across the nation will do the same.

"Even some tragedies can bring people closer together, and I feel like this is another example of that," River City junior Lauryn Byrd said. "I can see already, just organizing all this, how much students care about this issue."

In Jacksonville, each school is allowed to make its own plan.

A parent of Mandarin Middle School students told News4Jax their principal felt that having 1,500 students walk out was a bit too much, so the students will line the hallways while holding hands. 

Some school districts, including Glynn, said they are trying to use the students' efforts as an educational opportunity.

"These types of strategies enable our teachers and administrators to focus on social, emotional and interpersonal skills, instead of a 'protest' or other form of expression that could disrupt the instructional day," Jim Weidhaas, Glynn County schools spokesman wrote in a statement.

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