(Clarification: The Coweta County School System will support its students in memorializing and honoring the lives of the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla. An earlier headline – and one that appears in today's print edition – was meant to indicate the school system's reluctance to support what might be considered a political protest.)
Part memorial and part protest, National School Walkout Day has gained nationwide attention with more than 2,800 walkouts planned on March 14, according to Youth Empower’s #enough website.
A map search of the #enough site showed walkouts being organized at Newnan High School and Madras Middle School, but Coweta County School System officials said they were not aware of any large-scale planned events.
“We know that there’s been discussion nationwide about this, and while we haven’t heard a great deal about it from our students, we certainly know it’s out there,” said Dean Jackson, public information officer for the school system.
Participating students and teachers across the United States are planning to walk out of their schools and universities to honor the lives of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, according to Youth Empower, which is the youth branch of the Women’s March.
Wednesday marks the one-month anniversary of the day Nikolas Cruz gunned down 17 Stoneman Douglas students and faculty members with an AR-15-style rifle in Parkland, Fla.
However, Jackson said several principals have discussed the walkout with their student leaders, who have expressed a desire to do something that focuses on and honors the victims in Parkland.
“There’s certainly a precedent for that, like after 911,” Jackson said. “We can respect that wish. We can understand and we can work with students on that.”
National Walkout Day organizers say they planned the event to encourage Congress to ban assault weapons, require universal background checks before selling guns and pass laws that would take guns away from people who display tendencies toward violent behavior.
While Coweta County Schools support memorializing and honoring the victims, protesting is a different matter, according to Jackson.
“We are not going to support political advocacy,” Jackson said.
“Our schools are planning a normal instructional day tomorrow,” he added.