About 650 students at four Southlake Carroll campuses staged brief walkouts Thursday morning in protest of gun violence and in remembrance of the victims of school shootings.
The student-led protest, which began about 10 a.m., lasted for 17 minutes to remember the 17 victims killed in the Florida school shooting on Feb. 14. Students from Carroll Senior High School, Carroll High School, Dawson Middle and Carroll Middle participated in the protests.
"What keeps going through my head is that if it can happen at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, it can happen here at Carroll," said Anika Shah, a 17-year-old junior who helped organize the walkouts.
At the high schools, the students went outside, while at the middle schools, the students went to their campus gym. After the walkouts, students returned to class.
Students across the country have carried out similar walkouts, and events are planned nationally on March 14 and April 20, the anniversary of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre near Denver.
School walkouts have been posted on the internet and social media using the hashtag #NationalSchoolWalkout
. One such event is planned at Arlington's Martin High School on March 14.
"We will gather in front of the school in silence for 17 minutes, one for each student killed in the deadliest school shooting since Columbine," the event post says
Jordan Vine, an 18-year-old senior at Eaton High School in the Northwest school district, is planning an event on April 20. She said young people want their voices heard in the national debate about gun violence and school safety.
"If we don't feel safe in schools, we can make a change," Vine said.
Shah said she and her classmate Alanna Miller have been researching gun violence as part of their debate class. When the Florida school was attacked, they decided to bring that debate to their school community. The two have discussed the issue before the Southlake City Council and the Carroll school board.
"We knew we had to bring it to our school and stand up," Shah said.
Since the shooting, students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., have shared their message
against gun violence in speeches, interviews, social media and on TV news shows. Their message has resonated with student activists across the country.
At Southlake Carroll schools, students let their principals know of their plans. Students organized via social media using a Twitter handle @march8marchout and hashtags #DragonsGoOrange and #OperationWalkout created by Shah and Miller, who described themselves as "two girls at Carroll Senior High school trying to make change."
Pictures posted on Twitter depicted students wearing orange bandanas and carrying orange signs stating various messages, including "Am I Next?"
The students were present when class started on Thursday, district spokeswoman Julie Thannum said. The students left class peacefully, assembled and then returned to class.
"Instruction did not stop nor did teachers change any previously scheduled activities," Thannum said.
Some school districts have made news by taking a hard stance
against students who walk out, saying they will face suspensions. In Tarrant County, several school districts said students would face unexcused absences if they miss class.