Local students walk out of class 1 month after Florida school shooting

Hundreds of students at Broad Ripple High School in Indianapolis took part in a national protest, Wednesday, March 14, 2018, one month after the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. (WTHR Photo/Rich Van Wyk)
Local students walk out of class
Carmel students' 'walkout' stays indoors

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A generation of young people shaped by gun violence is taking action.

Waves of students from New York City to Seattle, Washington D.C. and here in Indiana walked out of their classrooms Wednesday at 10 a.m.

They stayed outside for 17 minutes - one minute for every victim of the Florida school shooting. During the protest, students read the names of all 17 of the victims.

The protest was started by the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, but quickly spread. Students at each campus where there was a protest organized their local demonstration themselves.

School administrators stepped back and made sure everyone stayed safe. The principal at Broad Ripple High School eestimated seven out of 10 students participated in that school's protest.

The nationwide protest is intended to memorialize the victims and turn up the volume on calls to change gun laws and make schools safer.

"It's very emotional because I'm just thinking of all the lives lost," Jennifer Argumendo said. She's one of the students who demonstrated at Broad Ripple High School. "Even though it didn't happen to me, it could have been any of us."

"I believe it won't make a direct difference as changing legislation would, but I believe that it will raise awareness for our cause, get more people talking about it, to speak out about our flawed gun laws," said Jasmine Murphy, another BRHS student.

On the other side of the city, about 100 students from George Washington High School lined Washington Street, holding up their homemade signs to passing traffic.

Leading up to Wednesday, students have been reading about and discussing the issues of school violence and the national protest they would be taking part in.

At North Central High School, there was another student-led walkout. Hundreds of students walked away from class and protested peacefully.

School administrators from several districts told WTHR's Rich Van Wyk they wanted to stay neutral and keep away from the heated political issue of gun control. Their job, they said, was to make sure students stayed safe and protected from people who disagreed and might try to harm them.

Many, if not most schools said that if students weren't disruptive and followed the guidelines, they would not be punished for participating in the walkout.

Hamilton Southeastern leaders, though, sent home a letter to parents last week saying students who choose to leave class or school will be in violation of policy and that absent students will be required to make up any missed work.

Nearby in Carmel, the demonstration was kept inside which left some students frustrated.

While about 1,000 students walked in silence for 17 minutes, three girls decided to walk out.

"Being cooped up in the fieldhouse is hiding our participation," Freshman Maria Morales said. "That's not change. That's not what they want."

One of the students who stayed inside disagreed.

"What we did inside was probably more effective than what they were doing outside. We got kids registered to vote. We got kids signed up to volunteer for the March for Our Lives, continuing that advocacy versus just walking outside," Freshman Isabella Fallahi said.

Whether they were inside or outside, they all wanted the same thing: a safer school.