OOLTEWAH, Tenn. (WDEF) — Middle and high school Students across the country plan to walk out of their classes Wednesday to honor the victims of last month’s school shooting in Florida. The student leaders at Ooltewah High School have coordinated a 17-minute walk out with the school’s administration. They hope this unified voice will help force positive change and make our schools safer.
On February 14th, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz opened fire in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killing 14 students and three staff members.
The shooting has since sparked national debate on school safety and gun laws — a debate students are now taking into their own hands.
“I think that it’s important that around the nation, they see that it’s something that has to be taken seriously,” said Parker Fleming, Ooltewah’s ROTC Battalion Commander.
At 10 a.m., students across the country will walk out of class in memoriam and solidarity with the victims in Parkland, Florida.
“Anything that we can do to get our voice heard, to get our opinions seen, can make a change. Even something as small as a local walk out at a school in Chattanooga, Tennessee, can make such a big impact when combined with the actions of everyone in the nation, because this is a nationwide thing,” Ooltewah senior Hadessah O’Neal said.
And the student leaders at Ooltewah believe now is the time for change.
“Throughout my lifetime, we’ve heard about these school shootings, we’ve heard about gun violence and incidents of hate and death in our schools, and I think that it is time that we all stand together,” said senior Makayla Harmon.
They hope students in the surrounding areas will stand with them.
“Now is the time to tell elected officials that the new generation wants to see something done about this. A lot of us are becoming 18, and it may change the way voting goes in the future,” senior Cade Shortt said.
Whitfield County schools will not participate in the walk out tomorrow due to student safety concerns. But at Ooltewah, they will hold the walk out inside the gym to ensure the safety of all those who want to participate.
We spoke with the school systems in our area to see if they will participate.
The Hamilton County Superintendent says the schools will not endorse the walkout, but will not punish students who want to participate.
The McCallie School and Dalton City schools will allow students to walk out.
Cleveland City and Catoosa County schools have student led movements also.
And Marion County and Walker County schools will have assemblies during that time for students who want to participate.