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Students at Chaparral, Highlands Ranch and ThunderRidge high schools walked out of school Feb. 21 to show support for victims and family members of the recent school shooting in Florida.
Students organized the walkout, which was not sanctioned or organized by the Douglas County School District, via social media. At about noon, students stayed out of class for 17 minutes — one minute for each victim of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Shortly after the walkout ended, some Chaparral students who were done with school for the day could be found at a park near campus.
“Everyone walked out for their own reasons,” said Martin Calderon, a 17-year-old student at the Parker school. “We wanted to show our support for those in Florida. Some took the chance to talk to their friends and other students about what's going on in schools.”
Via Twitter, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office said school resource officers monitored the walkouts at the three schools and that they were peaceful.
Interim DCSD Superintendent Erin Kane sent a statement to parents in the district, recognizing the students' rights to express themselves in a safe manner, but saying the district didn't condone any walkouts organized by students.
“It has come to our attention that some of our students may be participating in a school walkout today to show solidarity for the victims of last week's tragedy in Parkland, Florida," the statement reads. "There is talk that these type of walkout events could happen at schools across the country. Douglas County School District is not endorsing, nor hosting these walkouts, nor are we endorsing any particular viewpoint or advocacy group. However, we do respect the right of our students to express themselves as long as it is done safely. As always, school staff would ensure the safety of our students. If a parent wishes to excuse their student from school, they may do so. The job of our staff is to facilitate the safety of our students, to minimize the disruption to the learning environment and to get back to educating students as soon as the events have ended."
Chaparral student Reagan Davis, 17, participated in the walk-out, and said she has increased concerns about safety at school because of recent shootings around the nation.
“I get afraid sometimes — it's hard for students to trust coming to school is safe with all that's going on,” Davis said. “With the psychological problems of these shooters, and with the bullying that goes on, it's clear that if they don't get help this can keep happening.”
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