National School Walkout
1,800 Catoosa County students participate
More than 1,800 students in Catoosa County middle and high schools walked out of class on March 14, joining thousands more nationwide, to showcase the need for safer schools.
While much of the media across the country dubbed the national walkout a protest against gun violence, students at Heritage High School (HHS) showed it could be something more than that.
HHS Principal Ronnie Bradford says that a few weeks before the event, Schools Superintendent Denia Reese gave principals a heads-up on the event. The principals met to discuss ways to handle things if students wished to participate, but it was left up to the students to initiate participation.
“A ninth-grade student, Christina Newport, came to me,” says Bradford, “and asked if students would get in trouble if they took part in a walkout.”
Bradford suggested that Christina take the issue to the Student Government Association (SGA). She did, and the group engaged in some serious conversations about what their purpose would be in organizing a walkout at their school.
“We wanted to do something that wasn’t politically charged,” says Hannah Colston, an HHS senior and president of the SGA. “We wanted to bring people together, not divide them.” To that end, the students titled the event “Inspire Change.”
“They chose to steer clear of the gun control issue,” says Bradford, “and focus on things anyone could do, including themselves.”
“Students from the graphic design program made posters for the event,” says Hannah. “There were also handmade posters and we spread word on social media.”
Around 200 Heritage High School students participated in the March 14 nationwide school walkout to promote safer schools. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Petteys, HHS)
Heritage High student speakers shared thoughts and ideas for making schools safer at the 17-minute school walkout on March 14. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Petteys, HHS)
Hannah Colston, president of the Heritage High School Student Government Association, helped organize the March 14 student walkout for safer schools. (Photo courtesy of Michelle Petteys, HHS)
Above: “Inspire Change” was the theme Heritage High School students chose for their March 14 school safety walkout. Right: More than 1,800 Catoosa County students participated in the nationwide March 14 school walkout day, including 200 from Heritage High School. (Photos courtesy of Michelle Petteys, HHS)