YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Local students will be adding their voices to others from around the country this week, hoping to bring attention to the issues of school safety, mental health concerns and gun control.
A National Walkout Day is scheduled around the U.S. at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Organizers say the protest is both a memorial and protest action.
In Youngstown, students with a group known as “Sojourn To The Past” are organizing simultaneous observances at East and Chaney High Schools as well as the Youngstown Early College.
They want to get the attention of lawmakers.
“And get a bill passed to require background checks when you purchase a gun and ban assault weapons,” said Lekeila Houser.
Youngstown is one of a number of districts marking the month since 17 people were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida with outdoor demonstrations and speeches.
“We are trying to challenge everybody to know what’s going on and to do something,” said Brittany Bailey.
The Youngstown students have been collecting signatures on petitions, which they plan to send to state and federal lawmakers.
Organizers are with a group called “Sojourn To The Past,” which extensively studies the Civil Rights movement and believes that young people are the key to change.
“It was children who brought change in the 50s and 60s. That also made not only adults but presidents act,” said Kira Walker.
Youngstown City Schools CEO Krish Mohip is supportive of the walk out.
“These are young adults that are expressing themselves, and I think it’s important to give them that opportunity,” he said.
Not all districts will follow the same pattern. In Canfield, students will hold their event in the high school auditorium.
“We thought it wouldn’t be wise to schedule something and have a district be behind an initiative to send youngsters outside at a scheduled time,” said Canfield Schools Superintendent Alex Geordan.
In Lordstown, there will be a round-table discussion about safety and other concerns before students leave for Columbus to present letters they’ve written to lawmakers.
The following schools have contacted WKBN with their plans during Wednesday’s National Walkout Day:AUSTINTOWN
The district has planned a Safety Assembly for the Austintown Middle School and Fitch High School at 10 a.m. Students and staff will practice for an evacuation drill, then meet at a specified area on campus. Once at the meeting point, they will hear from administration and Austintown police about procedures in place surrounding school safety.
The time will also be used to honor the 17 victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Students will be able to donate money, with all proceeds going to a local mental health agency. This decision from Student Council leadership at AMS and Fitch. Students may donate $1 to wear orange in support of the Florida victims on the March 13 and donate $1 to wear black for mental health awareness on the March 14.
Students in the elementary and intermediate schools will not participate in the safety assembly.CANFIELD
The district has asked for the community’s support to keep students in class, calling a walkout a “material and substantial disruption” to the school day. In addition, the district is worried about students’ safety.
Superintendent Alex Geordan said students are not permitted to leave school without a parental excuse. Participating may result in disciplinary actions.
At Howland High School, students have decided to gather in the front hall of the high school for 17 minutes to bring awareness to violence in schools.HUBBARD
At Hubbard High School, students will gather in the auditorium at 10 a.m. for an assembly that is being organized by the student council. There will be a total of 17 speakers who will light 17 candles as students say a line representing the lives of each person lost in the Florida shooting. Hubbard’s police chief, mayor and safety director have been invited by student council to attend.At Hubbard Middle School, students will honor the victims of the Florida shooting by having “Honor 17” Day. The event is being organized by the middle school’s student council. Students will be asked to complete 17 acts of kindness to honor of the victims. LIBERTY
Students at Liberty High School have decided to hold a candlelight ceremony to honor the 17 victims of the Florida shooting. It will start at 10 a.m. at the high school auditorium.
Each minute, a Liberty student will read the name of one of the 17 victims, provide brief words for reflection and burn a candle in memory of each victim. This assembly is optional.
Students who wish not to participate will remain in their classroom. Students will return to class at 10:20 a.m.LORDSTOWN
The school is supportive of students’ right to participate in a “Day of Advocacy” to honor the victims of school violence in Florida. The district said the day is not political or about guns.
Students plan to paint the school’s rock orange with the names and words “Stand with Stoneman.” Students will have 17 seconds of silence each period with spoken acknowledgment of victims in Florida.
Students have also been writing letters to legislators about the importance of school safety, including addressing additional funds for safety improvements. Some students will be leaving at 10 a.m. to go to Columbus and hand-deliver the letters to two legislators with proposals.
Students are also holding “School Safety Roundtable” to discuss school safety issues and asked it to be attended by first responders, school administrators and a representative that can address mental health services available in the area.
Niles McKinley High School’s National Honor Society is organizing 17 minutes of silence on National School Walkout Day. National Honor Society members will (via the PA) share names and information about each one of the people killed in Florida. The National Honor Society has asked that students remain in their classrooms and use the time to reflect. Students are also encouraging one another to wear orange on the day to promote safety in schools.WARREN
Students who have permission slips from parents will be able to silently leave class at 10 a.m. for the demonstration. Teachers will continue their lessons for those who remain in class. Students will be given wristbands if they’ve been given permission to participate, and they must return to class immediately after the demonstration.YOUNGSTOWN
Mahoning Valley Sojourn to the Past students are organizing a 17-minute school walk-out/rally at all three Youngstown City high schools at 10 a.m.
Students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have asked students across the country to conduct a 17-minute walk-out. The walkout/rally marks one month since 17 people were murdered at their high school in Parkland, Fla. The walkout will occur at Chaney, East and Youngstown Early College simultaneously.
The purpose of the walkout/rally is to honor the 17 people who were killed and to support the students of Stoneman Douglas High School. They are asking Congress and the Ohio General Assembly to pass legislation that bans assault rifles and requires a background check for anyone purchasing a gun.