Surry County students took part in Wednesday’s national protest against school violence — but don’t call their actions a “walk out.”
“North Surry High School students held a Step-Up Assembly,” said county schools spokesperson Sonia Dickerson. “They did not call it a walk-out, but a step-up.”
“They wanted to say ‘Let’s step up together, join together, and remember the victims,’” she said of the students’ decisions.
Nationally, the movement was called to take place at 10 a.m., but the Surry County Schools were on a three-hour delay because of inclement weather in some parts of the county. That did not deter the students — Dickerson said they simply moved the time of their planned activities to later in the day.
“Each of our schools had a plan in place,” she said of the county’s four middle and four high schools. She added that students at Surry Early College are on break this week, but have scheduled an assembly to honor school shooting victims in April.
“The students there are going to sell colored ribbon pins to wear in support of the 17 victims,” she said, referring to the 17 students and teachers killed in the Parkland, Florida mass shooting on Feb. 14. “All the money they raise they are going to donate to the Ronald McDonald House in memory of those victims.”
She said the programs varied from school to school in Surry County, with one thing in common — they are all student-planned and student-led.
“At one school, they’re going to discuss school safety, so their resource officer might be participating. A member of the sheriff’s office might be participating in other schools. In some schools, the student council president is leading the assembly.”
At North Surry, where students took the theme of “Stepping Up,” the gathering took on a patriotic tone. The assembly was optional for students, and included a 17-minute period of silence in memory of the 17 Florida victims. It also included the student chorus singing the National Anthem and a formal presentation of the colors by the JROTC chapter there.
Mount Airy City School students did not participate in any form of walk-out activities, according to school spokesperson Carrie Venable.
The calm local observances of the national movement were in contrast to activities seen elsewhere in North Carolina and the nation.
A number of students in North Carolina walked of class, some participating in marches and rallies calling for stricter gun control laws, according to numerous Associated Press reports.
The same occurred elsewhere in the nation, with many students taking part in marches, calling for change in gun laws, despite some school systems threatening the students with suspension if they walked out.
In Washington, thousands of students gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, holding colorful signs and cheering in support of gun control,” the wire service reported.
The students in front of the White House chanted, “Hey, hey, ho, ho. The NRA has got to go!” and “What do we want? Gun control! When do we want it? Now!”
While most protests went without incident, at least one school system, in Douglas County, Nevada, put its Douglas High School on lockdown after unspecified threats were received against the school, preventing students from leaving their classrooms from 9:30 a.m. until 11 a.m.
An unspecified threat at one northern Nevada high school kept most of its students from walking out of class to participate in a nationwide protest marking the one-month anniversary of a Florida school shooting.
The Douglas County sheriff’s office says a stay-put order was issued at Douglas High School in Gardnerville south of Carson City on Wednesday shortly after the threat was received at about 9:30 a.m.
Deputies and state troopers patrolled the campus and surrounding area before they determined there was no danger and the order was lifted by 11 a.m.
The Record-Courier reports three students managed to make their way out of the school and briefly joined more than a dozen adults who rallied with signs outside.
An officer escorted them back inside the school, which plans to reschedule its demonstration for another day.