Students Join National School Walkout

Nearly 300 students leave class to encourage new gun control legislation and to honor Parkland victims


Samantha Joslin, Copy Editor

     Today, a national walkout organized by the students of the Parkland shooting took place at 10 a.m. in honor of the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

     The walkout at Northwest occurred at 10:35 a.m. and included about 300 students, who sat quietly on the turf of the multi-purpose field in a semi-circle around junior Riley Demo. Demo organized the NW walkout to fight against school shootings and encourage students to contact local legislators with pleas to pass some form of gun control legislation. After meeting with the students organizing walkouts at other Shawnee Mission schools, Demo, armed with a megaphone and a list of names, stood at the front of the NW protesters and read the names of all 17 students who passed away in Parkland, one name as each minute passed.

     “Kids are dying in places they are learning,” Demo said. “That’s not right at all. I think they should be able to come to school and not worry about the exit routes. There needs to be a change at some point. I don’t know what that change is going to be, but there definitely needs to be something.”

     While students would have been reprimanded for walking out at 10 a.m., principal Lisa Gruman allowed students to walk out without penalty at 10:35 a.m. While teachers and staff didn’t organize the event, they came out to supervise, at some points quieting disruptive students.

     “I think the way our particular group is approaching it is very positive, and students certainly have every right to organize this,” Gruman said. “(Demo) is taking a very proactive approach. I think whether or not students walk out is up to the individual student. (Students who stayed in class) still may be politically aware, but don’t feel like this is how they should do things. They might want to write to a legislator or do something else in another avenue, so I think the important thing is it doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do; just be respectful about everyone’s opinion. I wouldn’t put the value on doing it or not doing it: the value is on the conversation and how you participate in it.”