Philly, New Jersey Students Join Nationwide School Walkout Protesting Gun Violence
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Students in Philadelphia say they are planning to walk out of class Wednesday as part of the National School Walk Out. The demonstration marks the one-month anniversary of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
The protests will begin at 10 a.m. and are expected to last at least 17 minutes, one minute for each victim lost in the Florida high school shooting.
"We truly believe that could have been us," said student Tamir Harper.
Harper is a senior at Science Leadership Academy, one of a number of schools participating in the action. Harper, along with some of his fellow classmates, say they plan to march along Market Street where they will rally against gun violence.
"Making noise, educating everyone that's out there about why it is important to address these issues, but also doing a voter registration drive for our students."
At 11:30 a.m., Juntos, Black Lives Matter Philly and students from schools across the city say they will meet at the School District of Philadelphia headquarters and march to City Hall.
The Philadelphia School District told parents students will not be disciplined for participating, but regular activities will continue. Juntos organizer Olivia Vasquez says students are demanding more guidance counselors and less police.
"They're asking the school district to really invest in their education," Vasquez said.
In South Jersey, students also plan to protest.
Justin Prechodko, a senior at Cherry Hill East High School, plans to join students throughout the nation for a walk and take a stand against gun violence.
"To show that we really do care for these victims, and to make sure that there no more school shootings or any mass shootings never again in the US," Prechodko said.
Many school districts in the Garden State have put plans in place to facilitate the National Walkout Day.
Collingswood will let students walk to their football stadium and assemble.
Eastern High School sent out a letter this week detailing plans for an organized walk out, but warned, "Any demonstration that interferes with the normal operation of our school or creates unsafe conditions is not acceptable and will be handled compassionately but firmly," wrote Eastern Principal Robert Tull.
Audubon High School doesn't expect a big walkout crowd but will accommodate those who want to take part.
"We decided to make a flexible arrangement that we think will work. Those who want to participate can do so in a safe way and we promised them that if they worked with us there will be no punishment," said Robert Goldschmidt, Audubon interim superintendent.
Like many educators, Goldschmidt sees the protest as a teachable moment.
"It's an event that cuts as close to home as possible to young people and that's their lives, and safety while they are getting an education," he said.
However, one school district in Bucks County is warning students they will face disciplinary action if they decide to walk out.
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