Students at Oak Park-River Forest High School, Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School, and Percy Julian Middle School have planned an organized walkout today to protest gun violence in American educational institutions, according to District 97 school administrators.
The effort was largely prompted by the mass shooting that took place on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed and an additional 16 were wounded.
According to administrators, students engaged in the protest will leave assigned classrooms or lunchrooms to stand in the hallway for 17 minutes as a way of showing solidarity with the victims in Parkland; some may leave the campuses altogether.
“If students in your classes walk out, please allow them to exit peacefully,” reads a note from OPRF Principal Nathaniel Rouse. “Administrators and security staff will be monitoring hallways, exits, and the outside of the campus to ensure that students remain safe and peaceful.”
Teachers and faculty have been instructed from school administrators to carry on with their duties normally but not to interfere with anyone who is participating in the protest.
“We will have staff members stationed in the hallways and other common areas during this time period to ensure that the students who wish to engage in this activity have the time, space and opportunity to do so, while also making sure that it does not create safety issues or disrupt the learning and instruction for those who choose not to participate,” said Brooks Middle School Principal April Capuder.
Today’s walkout is the first protest of many planned by activist students and parents throughout the country. On April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting, a protest titled “No Kids Left” is planned in which children and teenagers are encouraged not to attend school as a sign of solidarity against gun violence.
OPRF students have a progressive reputation, and a large number are expected to participate in today’s walkout, as well as future protests.
Photos of the Feb. 21 walkout courtesy of Brian Crawford via flickr: