On March 14, thousands of students across Atlanta Public Schools made their voices heard as part of National School Walkout Day to protest school violence and in support of stricter gun laws. It is estimated that more than 16,000 APS students from 24 schools participated in the student-led demonstrations.
Brimming with demonstrations and civic engagement activities, students’ participation in the national initiative comes on the heels of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Broward County, Florida, where 17 students were gunned down in February. From speeches and marches, to moments of silence, students coordinated peaceful protests in honor the 17 shooting victims.
APS was supportive of this momentous opportunity for students to engage in safe, structured, student-led civic activities around a national dialogue. Student participation was optional. Student leaders from each school developed their own plans for how their school would protest.
At North Atlanta High School, hundreds of students gathered on the football field, where they observed a moment of silence in honor of the victims. Members of the North Atlanta High School Student Government Association gave short speeches, while dozens of other students held large orange flowers to symbolize the peaceful call to end gun violence.
“As students, we’re here to say we’re tired that the gun violence continues to happen,” said North Atlanta High School SGA president and senior Chandler Smith. “We want to usher in a new movement and spread passion to spark the change we want to see.”
At Grady High School, about 500 students gathered in the football stadium for the protest. Many of them wore orange, which has become the official color of the national student-led protest movement. Most all of them wore an orange ribbon in honor of the Parkland victims. The students listened to speeches by the leaders of the Grady Student Government Association and then took two laps around the track before returning to the building. They were joined on the field by a group of about 30 adults – made up of parents, grandparents, Grady alumni and community residents — who supported their cause.
At Washington High School, about 600 students decided to remain inside the building and filed into the hallways and walkways and silently kneeled and bowed their heads in honor of the victims in Parkland.
Check out a video of the Washington events here:
Inman Middle School students held a spirited rally and formed a human chain around their school. Check out some of the photos from the day.
View a video of the Inman events here:
In her blog on http://www.atlsuper.com, APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen wrote, “As the birthplace and school district of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Atlanta Public Schools takes seriously our responsibility to prepare our students to succeed beyond high school and to help them become well-rounded individuals equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary for actively engaging in society.”
She continued, “APS is focused on graduating every student ready for college and career. But, at the same time, we know that for our students to succeed, they must also be able to engage in the world around them. We believe that by creating opportunities for safe, structured, student-led civic engagement around a national dialogue such as this one, we are ultimately helping our students develop social and emotional learning skills and be informed residents in our democracy.”
There were so many activities from schools around the district. Click here to view more highlights on the March 14 activities in Atlanta Public Schools.