Student walk outs planned for Wednesday
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — On March 14 and April 20, students locally will join their peers across the nation acting in solidarity against school shootings.
A 17-minute walkout at 10 a.m. on March 14 will honor the 17 victims of the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and protest lawmakers’ response to gun violence.
Prior to the walkout, a community gathering at the Snohomish County Court plaza, 3000 Rockefeller Ave. in Everett, is planned for 9:30 a.m. followed by a march to Everett High School.
April 20’s demonstrations will commemorate the victims of the April 20, 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado.
The March 14 event has been planned and publicized by Empower, the youth arm of the Women’s March organization.
“They say the government legislators shouldn’t be influenced by” the shootings that just happened, “they say it is a time to grieve not a time to act, and that is probably one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard,” Jack Hartung-Larrabee, 14, said.
Hartung-Larrabee is an eighth grader at Monroe’s Park Place Middle School. Like most school-aged children, he’s had a shakeup since the shooting in Parkland.
“They changed the entire way of how we do things in schools now, we now have to get up and walk out instead of hunkering in place and hiding, so I’m not even sure if that will help with a school shooter. Do (students) run and hope the bullet doesn’t hit them?” he said.
“How do you prepare against something like that?” Hartung-Larrabee asked, and then he answered: “You prevent against it happening.”
Hartung-Larrabee said many students he knows are planning to demonstrate. He said he plans to sit peacefully in the parking lot on March 14..
“What I would personally want is guns to be … a lot harder for people to get,” Hartung-Larrabee said.
Hartung-Larrabee is hoping for more comprehensive nationwide restrictions and age limits.
Separate bills in Olympia would raise the age to buy a semi-automatic rifle to 21, and make background checks stricter. Another legislative bill would phase out bump stocks — an enhanced stock that helps a user rapidly fire a semi-automatic gun — and make them illegal to own in Washington in 2019; Gov. Jay Inslee is expected to sign off on it.
In preparation for the demonstration, Everett administrators have sent out notices to families regarding the planned protests.
“We respect students’ rights to freedom of speech and recognize student-led events can be valuable learning experiences in democracy. We want to ensure our students are safe and respectful,” the district said.
The Everett School District notes students will be marked tardy or absent depending on how long they are out of class.
The school district encourages students to notify administrators about their plans to ensure safety and adherence to school policies. It also encourages parents to talk to their children about the recent shootings and provides resources on its website.
“Will be following all regular attendance procedures, and also drafting a letter to parents and staff.” All efforts will be taken to keep students and staff safe, and we will have “continuing conversations on how to move forward throughout March and April,” said Monroe School District spokeswoman Tamara Krache.
The Snohomish School District will have further information closer to the planned demonstration dates, spokeswoman Kristin Foley said on Feb. 28.
“It’s heartbreaking to me to have (my kids) come home to dinner and say if a gunman came to school, here’s my plan,” said mom Marie Hartung.
“That school should be built with security guards and scanners, it’s sad this is what’s happened in our culture. Anything we can do to change that downstream effect is good,”
Hartung-Larrabee said he was told local students’ actions would not make a significant change, but that did not concern him.
“I believe change ripples, it effects outward, it may dilute the farther away from the change, (but) it’s still
there, it’s still present, it still carries,” Hartung-Larrabee said.
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