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Safety & Discipline

Western Pa. students walk out in protest of school gun violence

Renatta Signorini
| Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 9:45 a.m.

High school students protested gun violence and showed support for improved school safety during walkouts locally and nationwide Wednesday morning.

The organized walkouts may have looked different, but all were meant to honor the victims of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Students in some school districts planned to leave class at 10 a.m. and stand in silence for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim of the Florida shooting.

Tribune-Review reporters and photographers visited the following high schools in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties: Southmoreland, Greensburg Salem, Hempfield Area, Gateway, Penn Hills, Fox Chapel, Kiski Area, Highlands, Quaker Valley and Woodland Hills.

In Parkland, students and faculty walked to the football field to the football field and a nearby park, reports NBC News.

Dubbed the ENOUGH National School Walkout, plans originated with the group EMPOWER, a coalition of organizations led by the youth division of the January 2017 Women's March organizers.

In addition to honoring victims and survivors of gun violence, the group also encourages students to support policy initiatives directed at reducing gun violence, register to vote and share their efforts with local lawmakers.

Another nationwide school walkout is planned for April 20.

Other area schools had events Wednesday, including Norwin, Hampton and Franklin Regional. At Mt. Pleasant, students will scheduled to meet during an activity period to write postcards to state and local lawmakers. Planned by four students and administrators, the school held a 17-minute walk to promote school safety in February.

Greater Latrobe high schoolers will have a walkout on an undisclosed day because of security concerns.

WOODLAND HILLS

About 500 students rallied outside of the school building after a short assembly during which faculty explained to students the procedure for the walkout. They carried signs and had a moment of silence.

During the assembly, many students raised their hands to show they had been affected by gun violence.

Some of the signs said: "We are students, we are victims, we are change" and "We will vote you out."

Student Ashanti Jones, 15, carried a sign that said "Protect kids, not guns."

"We need to stop this violence and come together as a community," she said.

GATEWAY

Students walked out and chanted at the football stadium. They held signs and afterwards had a moment of silence.

Some of the signs said: "It's time to wake up Congress" and "How much is my life worth to the NRA?"

Senior Ally Shrank, 17, made a sign that listed the names of 225 schools where shootings have taken place since 1999.

SOUTHMORELAND

Students walked out of class and gathered in a common area. They placed pieces of masking tape over their mouths with messages such as: "end gun violence" and "#neveragain." Students made posters sharing their concerns about gun violence. Student organizer Dakota Coffman, a junior, worked with administrators to plan the event.

The students later removed the tape from their mouths and placed it on a banner.

HIGHLANDS

Students gathered in a common area and listened to 17 chimes ring. The school choir sang "Enough."

Principal Charlie Mort said students came to him with some ideas to protest school violence.

"Everybody that lost their lives were high schoolers..." in Florida, said senior Kayla Melifi, who added that she wouldn't want that to happen to her friends or family.

GREENSBURG SALEM

Students gathered in the gym and the names of those who were killed during the Florida shooting were read aloud by event co-organizer Jordan Mitchell.

KISKI

FOX CHAPEL

More than 150 students and teachers gathered at the football stadium to honor the Parkland victims. Individual students read the names of those killed and then laid down on the snowy football field.Student organizers said they participated because they believe in safer schools.

HEMPFIELD AREA

Students assembled at the field house for about 30 minutes, according to an email to parents from Principal Kathleen Charlton. During that time, some students discussed how they can bring about change to prevent future school violence, she said.

Southmoreland High School student Kaylea Farino stands during a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018. Students wrote messages on masking tape about why they wanted to participate in the demonstration and placed it over their mouths. The tape on Farino's face reads: 'Pray for the victims, mental health awareness.'
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
Southmoreland High School student Kaylea Farino stands during a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018. Students wrote messages on masking tape about why they wanted to participate in the demonstration and placed it over their mouths. The tape on Farino's face reads: 'Pray for the victims, mental health awareness.'
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Students at Woodland Hills High School walk out of school on March 14, 2018. High school students protested gun violence and showed support for improved school safety during walkouts locally and nationwide.
Ben Schmitt | Tribune-Review
Students at Woodland Hills High School walk out of school on March 14, 2018. High school students protested gun violence and showed support for improved school safety during walkouts locally and nationwide.
Mt. Pleasant Area High School students participate in a 17-minute walk on Monday, Feb. 14, 2018, to show support for the students of Parkland, Fla., who lost their lives.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Mt. Pleasant Area High School students participate in a 17-minute walk on Monday, Feb. 14, 2018, to show support for the students of Parkland, Fla., who lost their lives.
Mt. Pleasant Area High School students participate in a 17-minute walk on Monday, Feb. 14, 2018, to show support for the students of Parkland, Fla., who died in a shooting rampage at their school.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Mt. Pleasant Area High School students participate in a 17-minute walk on Monday, Feb. 14, 2018, to show support for the students of Parkland, Fla., who died in a shooting rampage at their school.
Greensburg Salem High School seniors Dante Howard and Jordan Mitchell hold a banner, signed by hundreds of students on March 14, 2018, that will be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Stephen Huba | Tribune-Review
Greensburg Salem High School seniors Dante Howard and Jordan Mitchell hold a banner, signed by hundreds of students on March 14, 2018, that will be sent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Students walk out of school to protest gun violence at Woodland Hills High School on March 14, 2018.
Highlands students gather in the commons area as choir director Michael Zeiler leads the choir in song during the ENOUGH National School Walkout at Highlands High School on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Highlands students gather in the commons area as choir director Michael Zeiler leads the choir in song during the ENOUGH National School Walkout at Highlands High School on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
Students gather in the commons area at Highlands High School as choir director Michael Zeiler leads the choir during a school walkout protesting gun violence on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Students gather in the commons area at Highlands High School as choir director Michael Zeiler leads the choir during a school walkout protesting gun violence on Wednesday, March 14, 2018.
The names of the victims killed in a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are written in chalk on the sidewalk in front of Quaker Valley High School on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
The names of the victims killed in a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are written in chalk on the sidewalk in front of Quaker Valley High School on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Quaker Valley High School seniors Molly Henschke (left) and Tessa Kimmy write in chalk the names of the victims killed during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Quaker Valley High School seniors Molly Henschke (left) and Tessa Kimmy write in chalk the names of the victims killed during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Quaker Valley HIgh School senior Olivia McMullen wipes tears from her eyes as she listens to classmates read the names of the 17 people who died during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Quaker Valley HIgh School senior Olivia McMullen wipes tears from her eyes as she listens to classmates read the names of the 17 people who died during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Quaker Valley High School senior Annika Christensen writes in chalk the name of one of the victims who was killed during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Quaker Valley High School senior Annika Christensen writes in chalk the name of one of the victims who was killed during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. on March 14, 2018. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Quaker Valley High School freshman Kat Coates hugs junior Matilda Gould as she cries on March 14, 2018, while they listen to classmates read the names of the 17 people who died during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Quaker Valley High School freshman Kat Coates hugs junior Matilda Gould as she cries on March 14, 2018, while they listen to classmates read the names of the 17 people who died during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Students, including about 150 of the roughly 630 at Quaker Valley High School, participated in a nationwide school walkout to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools.
Quaker Valley High School senior Franzi Nace writes in chalk the name of one of the victims who was killed during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Students participated in a nationwide school walkout on March 14 to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools. (Trib photo)
Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Quaker Valley High School senior Franzi Nace writes in chalk the name of one of the victims who was killed during a shooting last month at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Students participated in a nationwide school walkout on March 14 to protest gun violence, show solidarity with survivors and call for bipartisan action to create a safer environment in schools. (Trib photo)
Southmoreland High School student Jazmine Frost places a piece of masking tape on a banner hanging in the school lobby on March 14, 2018. The banner reads, 'Walk out for a reason.'
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
Southmoreland High School student Jazmine Frost places a piece of masking tape on a banner hanging in the school lobby on March 14, 2018. The banner reads, 'Walk out for a reason.'
Students at Southmoreland High School wrote messages on pieces of tape about why they wanted to participate in the national walkout on March 14, 2018. At the end of the 17-minute silent protest, the students removed the tape from their mouths and placed it on a banner in the school atrium.
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
Students at Southmoreland High School wrote messages on pieces of tape about why they wanted to participate in the national walkout on March 14, 2018. At the end of the 17-minute silent protest, the students removed the tape from their mouths and placed it on a banner in the school atrium.
Students stand in the atrium of Southmoreland High School for a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018, to raise awareness about issues related to school safety and to honor the victims of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that took place one month ago. Following 17 minutes of silence, students removed the tape and placed it on a banner in the school lobby.
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
Students stand in the atrium of Southmoreland High School for a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018, to raise awareness about issues related to school safety and to honor the victims of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that took place one month ago. Following 17 minutes of silence, students removed the tape and placed it on a banner in the school lobby.
Southmoreland High School students write messages on pieces of masking tape about why the want to participate in the national school walkout on March 14, 2018. They then placed the tape over their mouths and stood in silence for 17 minutes.
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
Southmoreland High School students write messages on pieces of masking tape about why the want to participate in the national school walkout on March 14, 2018. They then placed the tape over their mouths and stood in silence for 17 minutes.
Southmoreland High School students gather in the school's atrium just before 10 a.m. to prepare for a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018.
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
Southmoreland High School students gather in the school's atrium just before 10 a.m. to prepare for a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018.
Students stand in the atrium of Southmoreland High School for a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018, to raise awareness about issues related to school safety and to honor the victims of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that took place one month ago.
Jamie Martines| Tribune-Review
Students stand in the atrium of Southmoreland High School for a 17-minute silent protest on March 14, 2018, to raise awareness about issues related to school safety and to honor the victims of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that took place one month ago.
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