GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Each of the schools in the Grand Rapids Public Schools system took part in a national walkout movement Wednesday.
At Grand Rapids City High Middle School, roughly 700 of the 850 students decided to participate in the walkout. To be in the voluntary walkout, students had to receive permission from their parents.
Students were dismissed at 10 a.m. by an announcement, while those not interested in participating stayed in classrooms or went to the school’s media center. Outside the school, students held signs with messages on gun control and school safety.
“Regardless of what you think is the right thing to do or the right way to solve this problem, you need to make that voice heard,” said Gabriella Rabon, a student leader of the walkout.
The names of the 17 victims in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were read aloud before the school’s principal, Ryan Huppert, and two student leaders spoke to the crowd addressing critics of the walkout.
“They’re right we are just a bunch of kids, but we’ve also been the victim’s of over a hundred school shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012. and that’s not okay,” said Ellie Lancaster, a senior at Central High Middle in Grand Rapids leading the walkout.
“This should be the last time that we ever have to do this,” added Rabon.
The peaceful demonstration lasted 17 minutes to honor the 17 victims before students returned to class.
There were opportunities to register to vote and write to their representatives.
“It’s sad that it took all of these school shootings to push us, but I think now we’re ready to stand up for ourselves,” student Kayla Bowman, who took part in the rally, said.
Some students will be participating in a march pushing for more gun control next week across the nation. A march will be held at Rosa Parks Circle in Grand Rapids.
In Kalamazoo, nearly 1,600 Kalamazoo Central High School students peacefully walked out school Wednesday.