SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Students from dozens of San Diego County schools walked out of classes Wednesday morning as part of a nationally organized event to protest gun violence in the U.S. and to honor the 17 victims in the Feb. 14 school shooting in Parkland, Florida.
National School Walkout Day began early Wednesday morning with hundreds of walkouts on the East Coast, including at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of last month’s mass shooting.
The walkouts began at 10 a.m. local time and most were set to last for 17 minutes -- one minute for each victim in the Florida shooting.
In San Diego County, numerous schools held walkouts and rallies in remembrance of the shooting victims and to spur change in national gun legislation.
A student told 10News, "On February 14th, a day to celebrate love, the world lost 17 lives. Enough is enough! How many lives must be lost before change can happen?"
Rancho Bernardo High School junior Allison Atfeld said, "I have a direct message for Congress: How many more students have to die before you're going to do something? We need gun control. It's the only way students will be protected at school."
Classmate Dylan Clark had a differing view, "It's a mental health issue and when you look at the facts and stop being ignorant to what you want to believe, you can see it is a mental health issue. We need to fix that."
Drew Cisse is a senior at RBHS. "Why do you need an assault rifle other than to kill multiple people; the maximum amount of people? Nothing you need it for."
Many county schools worked with their school districts to organize walkouts.
At Patrick Henry High School in San Carlos, students honored each Parkland shooting victim with a set of empty white chairs lined in a circle. A photo of each victim was placed on each chair.
Patrick Henry High students gathered on #NationalSchoolWalkoutDay, one student saying "today, the students of Patrick Henry High School unite to demand safety in our schools." >>> https://t.co/nSlgFGhj4n pic.twitter.com/GBOIxcxEjF
— 10News (@10News) March 14, 2018
One teacher at Rancho Bernardo High School chose to walk out with the students, and she told 10News, "The things they have to worry about today, they should not have to worry about as teenagers."
One teacher joined Rancho Bernardo High School students on #NationalSchoolWalkoutDay, telling @10News "the things they have to worry about today, they should not have to worry about as teenagers." >>> https://t.co/nSlgFGhj4n pic.twitter.com/6pRzP9r7WX
— 10News (@10News) March 14, 2018
High schoolers weren't the only students participating in the walkout. Southwestern College's Associated Student Organization sent a tweet asking for Southwestern students to take part in the walkout. In the message that was retweeted by Southwestern College's official account, the organization asked that students wear orange and walk out for 17 minutes to honor the Parkland victims.
At San Diego State University, volunteers expressed the importance of voting in order to spark change to gun laws. Volunteers were at the campus to register students to vote.
The walkouts raised a number of questions about possible punishments for students. While schools can punish students, many have said they would not as long as students aren't being disruptive. The Supreme Court ruled students don't "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate" in the Tinker V. Des Moines case.
Many have also posed the question of whether or not walking out of school could hurt their chances of getting into college. Many colleges, such as Yale, Tulane and UCLA, have said walking out won't affect their chances of getting into the schools.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that they were aware of the walkouts and respect “everyone’s right to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner.”
“On Wednesday, March 14th, students and faculty at schools across the nation are expected to walkout to mark one month since the deadly shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. The San Diego County Sheriff's Department is aware several schools in our jurisdictions will be participating in the #ENOUGH National School Walkout. We respect everyone's right to express themselves in a peaceful and respectful manner. We would ask that students and administrators communicate with their local law enforcement particularly if they will be leaving campus to ensure their safety navigating roadways and the well-being of drivers and pedestrians. For our students: please respect the instructions of school officials and if you hear any threats of violence or even potential violence, we encourage you to talk to one of our Sheriff's School Resource Deputies. The Sheriff's Department takes every threat seriously. In addition, students can call the anonymous Crime Stoppers Students Speaking Out tip line at (888) 580-8477. Students, parents and the public can also call the Sheriff's Department at (858) 565-5200.”
According to the Women’s March website, the following San Diego County schools were set to participate in the “#Enough National School Walkout”:
Ada Harris Elementary School
Coronado Middle School
San Pasqual High School
Mar Vista High School
La Jolla High School
Oceanside High School
Poway High School
Rancho Santa Fe:
R. Rodger Rowe School
Albert Einstein Academy Middle School
Cathedral Catholic High School
Del Norte High School
High Tech High Village
IFTIN Charter School
Montgomery High School
Mt. Carmel High School
Point Loma High School
San Diego City College
San Diego High School
San Ysidro High School
Southwest High School
Standley Middle School
Torrey Pines High School
Westview High School
Santana High School
Earl Warren Middle School
Other county schools that took part in the walkout:
Canyon Crest Academy (San Diego)
El Camino High School (Oceanside)
Hoover High School (San Diego)
Olympian High School (Chula Vista)
Pacific Trails Middle School (San Diego)
Patrick Henry High School (San Diego)
The Preuss Schools UCSD (La Jolla)
Rancho Bernardo High School (Rancho Bernardo)
Roosevelt Middle School (San Diego)
San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts (San Diego)
University City High School (San Diego)
Valhalla High School (El Cajon)