New Jersey students, educators walk out of class in solidarity with Florida school shooting victims

Posted at 6:07 PM, Feb 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-21 18:07:01-05

MIDDLETOWN, N.J. — Dozens of students and educators walked out of class at Middletown High School South in Middletown at noon Wednesday.

Students sat in silence for 17 minutes and each minute they recited the name of one of the 17 victims who died at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week in Parkland, Florida.

“We need to make sure that the change in this country starts now,” said Quinn Mott, 15, a sophomore.

Roughly 1,500 students attend Middletown South and not everyone participated in the walk-out. But students said they just began planning this last night. Students in the mock debate club went to a school board meeting and told their superintendent this was important to them and then spread the word on social media.

“School shootings have become more and more frequent and it’s just a horrible thing,”said Hannah Doerr, 18, a senior who helped plan the walk-out. "I think we all agree that this needs to stop and something needs to be changed."

Students across the country participated in walk-outs today. Reports say some even faced suspension for participating. But in Middletown, the schools superintendent called students actions today “appropriate”.

"In the wake of recent tragedies related to school violence, we respect our students' right to express their feelings,” said Dr. William George.

Meanwhile, students who survived the Parkland tragedy confronted lawmakers in Florida’s capital city today to demand more gun control. They traveled 400 miles to face lawmakers, but despite their efforts, the state’s republican controlled legislature voted down a measure to consider a ban on semiautomatic weapons.

“The growing trend in this nation is incredibly disturbing,” said Matthew Smith, 17. "Every child should be able to feel safe in their school and be able to learn without fear of guns or any other danger or violence.”

More nationwide school walk outs are planned for March 14 and April 20.