Education

Cary High students stage walkout to protest gun violence in schools

A group of Cary High School students walked out of class Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, to protest gun violence in schools.
A group of Cary High School students walked out of class Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018, to protest gun violence in schools. Courtesy of Ericka Little

Dozens of Cary High School students walked out of their classes on Tuesday to protest gun violence in schools, according to one of the students who took part in the protest.

At noon, according to sophomore Ericka Little, some 50 to 60 students walked out of their classrooms and gathered first in front of the main office. “Kids were saying things like ‘We do have a voice,’ ‘Things have to change’ and ‘You can’t stop us from walking off to prove that we care,’ ” Little said in an email.

The protest was in response to last week’s school shooting in Florida, where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz is accused of killing 17 people. School walkouts have been taking place across the country as students push lawmakers to support tougher gun laws.

A student walkout is planned for Green Hope High School in Cary on Feb. 28, according to a Twitter post from the school’s athletics department.

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According to Little, Cary High principal Nolan Bryant said he agreed with the protesters’ point about gun violence in schools but said the students would face consequences for leaving class without permission.

But Wake schools spokeswoman Lisa Luten said the principal told the students there were no consequences for taking part in a walkout. “To ensure the safety of students and staff, he reminded students that they are expected to abide by the student code of conduct and conduct themselves appropriately,” she said.

After Bryant spoke, the students began to walk off campus, Little said. “The school police officer and three teachers tried to stop us from walking off by holding their arms out and saying, ‘Where’s your pass? You can’t leave without one,’ ” Little said.

The students, Little said, told the teachers and school resource officer that their protest was more important than the consequences.

“The kids want our school to be a safer place,” Little said.

The sophomore called specifically for classes in how to respond to an active shooter on campus. “Currently, all we do is turn off the lights, lock the door and sit in the corner of the classroom,” Little said. “Most shooters know where we would be in a situation like that.”

“We have a very open campus, and it would be very easy for someone to walk on and start harming students,” she added.

Little also called for a change in the country’s gun laws. “Guns like the one Nikolas Cruz used should never even be available,” she said. “I believe it’s wrong that there are so many ways to get an automatic gun in under 10 minutes.”

Scott Bolejack: 919-829-4629, @ScottBolejack

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