The school district superintendent said about 600 students at Smyrna High were directed to a meeting place inside the school, while about 350 Smyrna Middle School students held an indoor observance
After the shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school one month ago, an idea was suggested and then spread across the country, asking for students to walk out of school today, March 14, for 17 minutes to remember the 17 students who died and to ask for stricter gun safety laws.
At Smyrna High School, there wasn't an outside "walkout" at 10 a.m., but students who chose to participate in a 17-minute observance were directed to a meeting place inside the school for a student-led program. No media personnel were permitted to attend the observance in the school today.
Smyrna Superintendent Patrik Williams said about 600 students left classes at 10 a.m. to attend the indoor event.
Also, about 300 students at Smyrna Middle School attended an indoor observance, and about 50 students at elementary and intermediate schools participated at inside events.
At the high school, the students gathered in the cafeteria where the administration had placed a podium and microphone.
"Student speakers took turns addressing their peers, beginning with the recitation of the names of the 17 victims in Parkland, a brief plea to make schools gun-free through legislation and then a 17-second period of silence," Williams said. "Other student speakers came up to the microphone and asked folks to consider walking with one another on March 24, either in Washington, D.C., or in Rehoboth. Another few students said a short prayer, and a final speaker closed by asking all students in attendance to join hands in silence for the final minute. At 10:17 students returned without incident to class, as we administrators and several available staff supervised the hallways to make sure everyone was safe."
One student, in a comment on the Sun-Times Facebook page, said some students were being disrespectful and treating the walkout like a joke.
However, Williams said he was "quite proud of our students and the overall maturity level of their participation."
In preparing for a possible walkout, Williams said he met with student leaders at Smyrna High School last week to discuss the issue and an indoor alternative.
"We have arranged a location inside our school for this purpose," Williams said Monday. "There will be staff, our [school resource officer], and administration, including me, on site to help guide students to and from the location."
"We are supporting our students in their decision, and our focus is strictly their safety. However, no adult staff will be participating, should students wish to convene," Williams said Monday.