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Students plan walkout with or without school support

Students at Mayo High School stage a walkout against gun violence in this Feb. 21 photo. The walkout lasted 17 minutes, in memory of the 17 victims in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14. Another walkout is scheduled for Friday, but students who participate aren't intending to return to class.

This time, absent is absent. Still, some students won't let that stop them. 

Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz said his district is aware that some students are planning to walk out of RPS schools at 10 a.m. Friday in protest of gun violence. But unlike the protest that occurred on March 14, Friday's protest will be different. 

"I have shared that any walkout is not sponsored, organized, or endorsed by the district or any of its schools," Muñoz wrote in a letter to district parents.

"Because the April 20th event is calling for a full school day walkout, I have informed our students that if a student leaves campus, or chooses not to come to school on Friday, it will be counted as an unexcused absence, unless a parent calls the school stating the absence is excused."

The March 14 walkout, which was held one month after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., where 17 students were killed by a gunman, lasted only 17 minutes — one minute for each of the victims.


Abbie Tryon, who helped organize the March 14 walkout at John Marshall High School, said organizers in Rochester had originally planned to send students to the state Capitol, but when they did not raise enough funds, the group reverted to the national plan to walk out at 10 a.m.

"What I’ve heard is the students (will) go to the public library," said the JM sophomore.

"I just don't think it will be as well attended as the last one," Tryon said. "MCA is going on throughout school, too." 

Rochester isn't the only school district where students plan to walk out. Plainview-Elgin-Millville sophomore Anya Hammer said students at her school are planning to walk out for 49 minutes on Friday, the same duration as the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado on April 20, 1999.

She changed the P-E-M walkout to work with her school's administration, which balked at letting students walk out for the whole day. 

Hammer said about 25 or so students at P-E-M plan to walk out in the morning. "There's a lot of us and we all care," she said. "When people just take money from the NRA, or don't take action when people are dying, we want them to know that we care and take action."

Students at P-E-M walked out in March as well. "Last time it was more of a private walkout," she said.

The national organization behind the protest, National School Walkout, chose April 20 as a day of protest since it will mark the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine. The organization boasts more than 2,100 planned walkouts at schools across the country. 


"We’re protesting congressional, state, and local failures to take action to prevent gun violence," the organization states on its website. 

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