Jacksonville-area students stage national walkout to protest gun violence

UNF officials say participating in National Walkout Day won’t affect admission status

Students walkout of class at Mandarin High School in Jacksonville to protest gun violence. Photo by Isabella Nicodeme

Walking out of class to protest gun violence– That’s how students across the nation honored the one month anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting Wednesday morning.

The walkout started at 10 a.m. and lasted 17 minutes — one minute for each life lost in the Parkland shooting.

Students at Mandarin High School in Jacksonville also signed letters addressed to Senator Aaron Bean asking for change. Administration and teachers were for the most part accommodating for those that wished to participate in National Walkout Day, students said.

Students at Mandarin High School in Jacksonville address letters to local government officials. Photo by Isabella Nicodeme

Mandarin High School freshman Isabella Nicodeme said her teacher told her he supported her right to protest in what she believed in when asking for permission to walkout of class.

“It’s been scary to know there’s a possibility that I could go to school and not come home again,” Nicodeme said. “The Parkland shooting opened my eyes we need to discipline the gun laws and make them inaccessible to high school students.”

By walking out of class, Mandarin High School freshman Brian Safar said he hopes gun control laws change.

“I hope to see a change in the laws for gun violence. After the Parkland shooting, I’ve been cautious of my surroundings,” Safar said.

Duval, St. Johns, Glynn, and Putnam County administration accomodated students that organized walkouts. Camden County schools did not participate in the walkout. Union County schools also did not participate in walkouts but held a silent meditation.

Jacksonville-area schools that participated in National Walkout Day include:

  • River City Science Academy
  • Samuel W. Wolfson High School
  • Sandalwood Senior High School
  • Douglas Anderson High School
  • A. Philip Randolph
  • Atlantic Coast High School
  • Academies High School
  • Yulee High School
  • Englewood High School
  • Mandarin High School
Students protest at Englewood High School in Jacksonville. Photo by Destiny McKeiver

For those high school students who plan to be an Osprey in the future, UNF officials said that missing class for National Walkout Day will not affect their admissions status.

“UNF supports the First Amendment right to freedom of expression, including by peaceful and lawful protest. We believe that this country is at its best when its students demonstrate that right through integrity, scholarship and freedom of expression,” university officials said in a statement.

Although UNF did not participate in National Walkout Day, since the shooting in Parkland, $2,000 was raised by Ospreys for those affected by the tragedy.            


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