Students in Northeast Wisconsin walk out to protest gun violence

Students walk out of Green Bay East High School March 14, 2018, to protest gun violence. (WLUK/Gabrielle Mays)

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN (WLUK) -- Students from several area schools participated in a “National School Walkout” Wednesday.

The walkout is part of a national debate about school safety and gun violence.

The plan was for students to have a 17-minute walkout. Many of the walkouts started at 10 a.m.

Seventeen holds meaning. It’s the number of people killed by Nikolas Cruz at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Cruz is currently facing 17 first-degree murder charges. The school shooting sparked outrage from students at the Florida high school.

The walkout also honors those who lost their lives in the school shooting on Feb. 14.

"We appreciate all of them and we're sorry for what happened and stuff like that and what happened to all the kids and all the school shootings we really want to stop it," said Davion Turner.

Many of the surviving Parkland students have urged Congress to pass stricter gun laws.

At Green Bay East High School, some walked in threes, others in groups, some held signs, others wore t-shirts that said "never again."

Students walked out of school for a number of different reasons.

Hunter McGowan organized Green Bay East High School's walkout.

"It's astonishing. I definitely didn't picture this amount of people coming out here today and so I'm so proud of every single one of us that decided to take the stand and walkout today," McGowan said.

McGowan said he participated in the walkout for "Security or better background checks. Something that will help reduce the amount of weapons that are put into the hands of people."

"I'm hoping to achieve, like, that all the shootings stop in the schools and, like, people sticking up for each other, stop all the bullying that's going on in the schools," said Trudell Chatman.

"I think that it is bringing so much awareness to this gun problem and school safety epidemic and people need to know that students go to school and they hear about these things and they don't feel safe," said Isabella Di Salvo. "I'm hoping to share this and share that there is stuff that needs to change that it can't stay the same."

Thirteen schools in Northeast Wisconsin are listed as walkout participants on this website.

A number of students in the Fox Valley also participated in the walkout. A group of Appleton East High School students walked out of class but stayed on campus.

As FOX 11 reported last week, the Appleton Area School District sent an email to parents,which said in part: “If a walkout does occur, classes will continue according to the regular schedule for the day." The email also suggests parents, "have a conversation with (their) child about this important topic."

NEW Lutheran High School, in Green Bay had a different approach.

The school's Facebook post said in part, "Today, rather than randomly following the nationwide walkout, our incredible Principal Jim McCllelan (sic) took the time to educate our students on the issues and to talk with our kids about school violence. It boils down to the commandments that Jesus gave to us to love God.."

Green Bay schools sent a letter home to parents that said if students participated in the walkout, parents would need to call the school and excuse their child's absence.

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