Eastern Carolina students leave class for National Walkout Day

Some students here in Eastern Carolina walked out of classes this morning in support of National Walkout Day.

At Kinston High School more than 200 students gathered around the school's front entrance in a peaceful demonstration. They returned to class about 15 minutes later.

A school district spokesman said yesterday that there were no district planned events, and that if students "acted appropriately in the exercise of the First Amendment freedoms" there would be no repercussions.

Of the seven observances at Lenoir County school, the one at Kinston High was the largest, according to the spokesman.

At South Central High School in Greenville hundreds of students assembled outside for a few minutes and then returned to class.

About half of the students at the Pitt County Early College High School gathered outside to read a biography of each of the 17 victims in the Parkland school shooting. They then released 17 balloons after a moment of silence.

Students at schools across the country organized walkouts to protest gun violence on the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Organizers said nearly 3,000 walkouts have been planned in states from Maine to Hawaii and as far away as Australia.

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Students at schools across the country are organizing walkouts for Wednesday, March 14th to protest gun violence on the one-month anniversary of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Organizers say nearly 3,000 walkouts have been planned in states from Maine to Hawaii and as far away as Australia.

Students say they will leave class at 10 a.m. and demonstrate for 17 minutes. That's one minute for each victim at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Some schools have applauded students for taking a stand, while others are threatening to punish students.

North Carolina's State Superintendent says it's up to each school district to decide how it will handle tomorrow's planned walkouts. Mark Johnson says he's not opposed to students taking a stance and expects peaceful protests.

Johnson says, "I encourage students to really consider forms of protest that would not use instructional time. We know how important that instructional time is, and we don't want to miss out on any of it."

In Craven County, student leaders at New Bern High School have created a Walk Out & Walk Up event for Wednesday. They're encouraging students to walk out during their lunch period and join together for a prayer for the families, victims and community of Parkland, Florida, and walk up during class changes, lunches or whenever and extend kindness.

Havelock High School will honor the memory of the victims with a moment of silence at 10 a.m.

Craven Early College High School will have a Walk-In by challenging students to walk up to 14 students and 3 adults to say something kind, encouraging students to make others feel included, welcomed, and appreciated.

In Pitt County, the Pitt County Early College High School will have students gather just before 10 a.m., when biographies of the 17 victims in Parkland, Florida will be read. The students will also release 17 balloons and hold a moment of silence. County leaders say each Pitt County School is handling it differently, depending on what student leaders and administration have arranged.

In Onslow County, the district says, "Onslow County Schools respects our students' voices, advocacy for their beliefs and desire to observe this national event. Our high school administrators have been working closely with their student government leaders and other on-campus student organizations, as well as district staff, to create student-led events to mark the day. Measures have been taken to ensure these events will be safe, respectful and create minimal disruption to the school day.

"Our students have a powerful voice and it is our role as educators to help students, through educational opportunities like these events, find their voice. It is our job to help them recognize that it matters when they speak about issues where they are passionate. It is also important to remember that the safety and security of our students and staff is a No. 1 priority in our district." Superintendent Rick Stout stressed.

Students who do not wish to participate may stay inside in a supervised area. All students who do participate will be required to remain on school grounds and under supervision.

In Beaufort County, the district says, "In recent days, we have been made aware of possible student demonstrations in response to acts of school violence. While Beaufort County Schools respects the rights of students to make their voices heard in a safe manner, we also recognize the importance of providing a safe and structured learning environment. For that reason, Beaufort County Schools seeks the opportunity to work with any student or group of students to discuss non-disruptive forms of civil discourse during the instructional day. Students with ideas and concerns should speak with the school principal.

As we work to guide students who seek to share their voices, we will be having age appropriate classroom discussions with our students about school safety. High school students will be participating in classroom discussions where every student will be given an opportunity to express his/her thoughts about school safety on our campuses. The ideas and concerns expressed by students will be shared with the superintendent and Board of Education in an effort to continually improve our safety and security measures.

While students may choose to exercise their rights to advocate for causes that are important to them, the rules related to student conduct and school safety shall apply at all times. In the Beaufort County Schools, safety will remain a top priority and we pledge to do our best to keep everyone safe."

State Superintendent Johnson said he doesn't think there will be many repercussions from students walking out, but says again, that's up to each district.