Students at George Washington Senior High School in Cedar Rapids walked out of classes Wednesday morning and gathered around the school’s flagpole for 17 minutes in memory of the 17 people killed last week in the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
The student leaders who organized the walkout worked with school officials to minimize the disruption the event caused to the school day, according to an email Washington High Principal John Cline sent to parents on Wednesday morning.
“The assembly at the flagpole has been planned to take place for seventeen minutes and will include a minute of silence followed by student speeches,” Cline wrote. “The assembly will conclude with a moment of silence to pay respects to the lives lost last week. Students will then return to their classes.”
“It is important that we support students’ Constitutional rights to peaceful assembly and free expression,” Cline added.
“We’re not walking out to further a specific partisan agenda, or to miss class,” Nathaniel Burke, one of the student organizers, explained during Washington High’s morning announcements on Wednesday. “We are walking out because we are sick of gun violence in schools. No one is required to walk out with us, but if you desire change in any capacity, if you are ashamed these tragedies keep occurring, then please walk with us today.”
The walkout at Cedar Rapids follows a large-scale walkout in Iowa City Monday morning, in which approximately 200 students from City High School and South East Junior High School marched to the Pentacrest to protest political inaction following school shootings.