Spring break dampens Texas participation in student walkouts protesting gun violence
As a national debate swirls after the mass shooting in Florida, students across the nation join National School Walkout Day. With most Texas students on spring break, some did their walkouts last week.
Students around the nation walked out of their classrooms at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, symbolically honoring the 17 lives that were lost in last month's shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. While organizers expected Texas students to join in, most schools were on spring break, so there were no classes to walk out of.
The shooting caused an eruption of conversation about gun violence among middle and high school students around the country, and they quickly turned their emotions into activism.
Organizers said they expected students in the Houston, Dallas and San Antonio areas to take part in the national school walkout, but there were no reports of large responses in Texas — although some Texas students staged walkouts last week before their spring break began.
In Waco, hundreds of students at Waco and Midway high schools walked out at 10 a.m., standing at the schools' entrances for 17 minutes before returning to class, according to KWTX. Students also walked out at Tennyson Middle School and Robinson High School.
Midway High School junior Emily Kate Mosley helped organize her school walkout. Prior to the walkout, she and other student leaders met with the school administration to discuss the walkout and came to a safe solution for the students who wanted to participate.
Mosley said the students received backlash from the community prior to the demonstration — but that didn’t sway her and her classmates.
"With every large movement — from Martin Luther King to Gandhi — you had people protesting what was right,” Mosley said.
In Houston, about a dozen people gathered in Linwood Park to protest gun laws. Houston schools are on spring break.
Last month, nearly 500 students at three Austin-area school districts walked out of classes to protest gun violence, and Texas students have planned rallies for March 24 and a walkout for April 20 — the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado that left 13 people dead.
Walkout organizers estimated that about 3,000 students nationwide would participate. In Washington, D.C., students walked to the White House at 10 a.m. Eastern time, holding signs and falling silent for 17 minutes, fists held in the air.
Students from Indianapolis to Philadelphia to Honolulu — and even London — took part Wednesday. A student at The American School in London told ABC News that although she and her classmates weren't directly affected by the shootings, they wanted to show support for people they knew in the U.S.
About 2,000 students at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, where white supremacists held a controversial rally last year, gathered on the campus lawn, "many wiping away tears as the names of the 17 Florida students were read aloud. The university’s chapel bells tolled 17 times as students bowed their heads in silence," The Washington Post reported.
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