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Local students to participate in National School Walkout to protest gun violence

Local students to participate in National School Walkout to protest gun violence
Students at Corona del Mar High School plan to walk out of their classrooms March 14 to protest gun violence following the recent high school shooting in Parkland, Fla. They will join the nationwide movement led by the Women's March. (File Photo)

Students at Corona del Mar High School plan to walk out of their classrooms March 14 to protest gun violence and urge Congress to take action following the recent high school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

They will join the nationwide movement championed by the Women's March organization in which students, teachers and school administrators are encouraged to leave their schools at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes to remember the 17 victims who died in the shooting.

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Junior Ayden Bird, 17, is organizing the effort at Corona del Mar High on social media with plans for speeches and a moment of silence.

Parkland survivors, he said, "triggered a shift in the anti-gun violence movement, telling us to demand action as opposed to request it."

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"Conservative media often look at anti-gun violence movements as an attempt to infringe upon our 2nd Amendment rights," Ayden said. "They try to make it such a polarizing issue, where it should not be. All of us, regardless of political background, need to stand up and protect the lives of our youth."

Newport-Mesa Unified District staff are not allowed to participate in political activity during work hours but are required to supervise students and are encouraged to do so during the walkouts, according to a March 2 letter emailed to employees from Supt. Fred Navarro.

Students are not allowed to disrupt instruction for students who remain in class or damage school property. If students decide to leave their campuses, Navarro said local police will assist in supervising them.

Although teachers may already have curriculum planned, Navarro said this was a "seize-the-moment situation" to challenge and engage students in discussions instead of "extreme disciplinary measures."

Parents will receive an email informing them of the walkout, according to district spokeswoman Annette Franco.

Huntington Beach Union High School District Supt. Clint Harwick issued a statement to parents saying district officials "support our students' freedom of expression" and will supervise them, but "encouraged our teachers and staff to inform students that if they leave class or campus without permission, they will likely be marked tardy or absent/truant."

Harwick said they "prepared for all potential outcomes" if students decide to leave campus and officials are working with local law enforcement agencies.

Marina and Ocean View high schools in Huntington Beach have created Facebook event pages for the walkout.

Parents and employees at the Ocean View School District received a newsletter in February from Supt. Carol Hansen sharing an overview of its school safety plans, which include evacuations and shelter in place drills.

District spokeswoman Julie Jennings said their schools did not have any activities planned for March 14.

Viloria said students who choose to assemble will not be disciplined so long as activities are peaceful and respectful, students remain on campus and stay in designated areas and do not disrupt a "safe and orderly educational environment" after the "identified break period."

Elementary school staff are not discussing the Parkland shooting or walkout events, Viloria said, but will provide students with counseling support.

Students enrolled in post-secondary education may decide to participate as part of the national event, but colleges within the Coast Community College District have not been alerted of any concrete plans as of yet, according to district spokeswoman Letitia Clark.

Twitter: @vegapriscella

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