CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A national school walkout is planned for Wednesday, March 14 as students around the country are protesting gun violence and pushing legislators to make changes after the Parkland high school shooting left 17 people dead.
It’s a story we've heard a lot about on social media; some parents support the effort, while one mom said her daughter would be grounded if she walked out of class.
FOX 46 talked with one student organizers at Marvin Ridge High School to find out why they feel it’s so important to protest in this way.
“Students are angry students are upset students want to be protected when they go to school,” said Grace Garcia, a senior at Marvin Ridge High School.
Grace wrote a poem after 17 people were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL on Valentine's Day.
“At the age of 18 we are too young, we should be dreaming of prom dresses
Not making mental notes of the flowers you hope won't fill your grave,” she begins.
She plans to read the poem on Wednesday during the planned walkout.
“We will stand up peacefully walk out silently.”
As she and other students around the country take part in a national movement, they'll leave class and head to the gym where the names of the 17 people killed in parkland will be read there will be seventeen empty desks.
“We want to emphasize that's not just a number that's an individual.”
Grace says fellow students have asked her: Why not do this after school hours, why do it in the middle of class?
“One of the most powerful platforms we have is within a school, within a classroom and making the conscience decision to really participate in this event,” she said.
Grace wants the effort to bring about awareness and change. She says students are already talking about what to do if there's an active shooter….
“We're having these conversations in class, how do we prepare ourselves because it's not a question of if, it's a question of when.”
She’s hoping their words and actions will lead to solutions.
“It's an act of solidarity, it's not an act of division.”
FOX 46 checked around with some of our North Carolina universities to find out if applicants or those who have already been accepted will be punished by their decision to walk out of class.
UNC Charlotte said in a statement:
A key component of UNC Charlotte’s institutional mission is to promote a robust intellectual environment that values social and cultural diversity, free expression, collegiality, integrity, and mutual respect. Though we require all applicants to disclose their school disciplinary records, the purpose of our review of those records is to ensure the safety of the university community, not to penalize civic engagement. Participating in peaceful protests organized to support policies and practices intended to prevent mass shootings will not negatively impact any admissions decision. We support and applaud all of our current and prospective students in their efforts to encourage productive dialogue and debate about important social and political issues.
UNC Chapel Hill provided this statement to FOX 46:
The University welcomes peaceful, principled, and purposeful action to improve the lives of others and society as a whole. The UNC system requires that candidates for admission report any suspensions. When we receive such reports, we don’t rush to judgment but instead take the whole of the circumstances into account. Although this practice requires that we consider each suspension individually, participation in non-violent civil protest and peaceful expression does not harm a candidate’s chances with UNC-Chapel Hill.
Duke University also responded saying:
Duke has always valued active and responsible engagement in civic life among its students and applicants. We will always consider all applicants fully and individually, and every part of the application, including disciplinary sanctions, in the unique context of the applicants themselves and the values of the institution we represent, which include civic and personal responsibility. An applicant’s participation in peaceful protests has never been a reason for us to deny or rescind an offer of admission.
As long as the protests are peaceful, seniors like Grace shouldn’t have anything to worry about when it comes to colleges and universities, but parents remain divided on the issue.