Students will leave their classrooms in response to gun violence in schools March 14

TIDINGS FILE PHOTO - Students gather in front of West Linn High School during November 2016 unity demonstration.All secondary schools in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District plan to participate in the national walkout Wednesday, school officials say. Rumors and social media chatter from the parents of some primary students make it apparent that some primary schools may also participate in some capacity as well, said Andrew Kilstrom, WL-WV communications director.

The walkout is set to begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14, and is expected to last for 17 minutes to commemorate the 17 lives lost in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida that killed 14 students and three staff members.

The walkout will occur across every time zone on March 14 at more than 2,500 schools in response to elected officials' failure to address gun violence.

"The walkout is part of a huge effort amongst students all across the country to spark a productive dialogue and make changes," said junior Liberty Paden from Wilsonville High School, one of the participating schools. "Our goal is to shift the paradigm and rewrite the narrative of school violence."

Paden created an Instagram page, "wvhswalkout," to increase student participation and raise awareness of the national walkouts, which will include information on the April 20 walkout some WL-WV schools will participate in as well.

"During the walkout, students are welcome to bring whatever they feel is necessary to express their opinions," said Paden, "whether that be bringing a sign, wearing orange in solidarity with victims of school violence or simply being there to honor and mourn the lives of students and teachers that were lost in these recent months."

The national walkout is completely student-led and WL-WV School District students who wish to participate will not be penalized academically, although they are asked to remain on campus during the duration of the protest. School administrators have worked with student leaders to organize safe and orderly walkouts across the district.

"We're not allowed to sponsor or encourage or discourage student protest and walkout," Kilstrom said. "The important part we want to reiterate (is that) class will continue. Kids certainly shouldn't feel obligated to participate, but they will not be penalized academically if they do."

Teachers will remain in classrooms and will take attendance once the protest has ended. West Linn and Wilsonville police will also help supervise the walkouts and make sure everyone is safe, Kilstrom said.

"We have all seen or even experienced the way that violence in schools can impact us," Paden said. "It's so important that we demonstrate that we want schools to be a safe place for everybody to go to."

Reporter Clara Howell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-636-1281 ext. 313.

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