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Nationwide Walkout: Grady Students Join in Protest/Solidarity

Grady+joins+students+nationwide+in+walking+out+of+school+to+bring+awareness+and+call+for+action+on+gun+safety.
Grady joins students nationwide in walking out of school to bring awareness and call for action on gun safety.

Grady joins students nationwide in walking out of school to bring awareness and call for action on gun safety.

Grady joins students nationwide in walking out of school to bring awareness and call for action on gun safety.

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Seventeen backpacks line the field of the Grady Stadium in front of a crowd of hundreds of students. Today, on the one month anniversary of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that left 17 dead, Grady students joined thousands of pupils across the nation and walked out of class to call for action on gun control and safety.

Hundreds of students joined teachers and administrators on the field in solidarity of those who lost their lives in Parkland, FL. Joining walkouts from Florida to Alaska, including 250 students gathered on the soccer field of Colorado’s Columbine High and survivors of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting walking out of Connecticut’s Newtown High School.

“Over 2,500 schools are participating in this movement today, right now,” said Cali Chalfant, organizer of Grady’s walkout.” Thousands of students and teachers are demanding change and honoring the lives lost.”

Senior president Aaron Burras lead a moment of silence for those who lost their lives.  The silence was heavy as students reflected on the recent school shootings, their own safety, and how  the Grady community (and young people alike) can enact change.

“I feel like we are all out here to think about what has happened and what has to change, but today for me it is to appreciate those people who lost their lives and to pay my respects,” sophomore Sovereign Jones said.  

Chants of “gun violence has got to go!” rang through the stadium as students walked one lap around the track. Students chant and rally to make their voices heard to administration and to government officials.

“Organization of young people is a great way to start a movement especially for radical change, which is desperately needed right now,” Junior Luc Sabatier said. “There’s power in numbers. The more people [walk out], the more change there will be.”

However, many students were unhappy with the involvement of administration in the walkout, and decided to participate in additional protests. A group of around 200 students amassed shortly after the dismissal of the original walkout.

“I think a lot of people don’t take the walking around in a circle of our own field very seriously, I feel like if we do something that isn’t actually permissible but not unallowed, we would make more of a statement,” said sophomore David Coffman, who was among the students who remained on the field.

In the wake of school shootings, many students believe that they have found that young people’s voices play a valuable role in making change.

“I’m so proud to be a part of this generation, because we refuse to sit down or be desensitized to the tragic loss,” said Noelle Mendoza in her speech addressing the walkout crowd. “I am so proud of us, because we are standing up, we are speaking, and we are making a difference.”

Tyler Jones
Students hold posters calling for action on the Grady field after the walkout.

Tyler Jones
Students link arms on the field an hour after the organized walkout. After several students decided to remain on the field for further protest separate from administrative supervision, the group of additional protesters amassed to 200.

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Nationwide Walkout: Grady Students Join in Protest/Solidarity