San Diego

Patrick Henry HS Students Deliver Emotional Speeches During National Walk Out

Many students were crying and hugging each other during the 17 minute demonstration

As part of a national conversation on gun violence in schools, 35 San Diego schools participated in National Walk Out Day Wednesday.

At Patrick Henry High School in San Carlos, students stuck to a planned schedule. San Diego Unified School District estimated a total of 350 students participated on campus. 

Students all over the nation participated in their own versions of the protest. At 10 a.m. local time, students walked out of classrooms for 17 minutes, one minute for every victim of the massacre that happened in Florida last month. 

On February 14, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida by a former student.

Now, exactly a month later, hundreds of students at Patrick Henry High School came out to pay their respects to the victims. 

The Associated Student Body, or student government, organized five minutes of silence from 10 a.m. to 10:05 a.m. Wednesday. A few students also delivered emotional speeches, at points crying during them, saying all students just want to feel safe at school. 

"Fellow Patrick Henry students, we should no longer have to negotiate for our lives," said Ashlee Watson, 17, during her speech to the crowd. "It is time to make a difference." 


Another girl read a poem written by a student who was killed in Parkland. 

The school choir sang a song called "Shine" written by students, calling for peace. 

Students were also encouraged to talk to 17 classmates they normally would not, in an act of solidarity. 

But some parents expressed on social media that the walk out was inappropriate. 

"What does this accomplish?" Jennifer Blair commented on Facebook. "Other than children being out and away from their academic time. Most the kids don’t care about the meaning behind it, they see it as time to get out of class."

"I am never for a walk out during school, they can do something after school," Deanna Hopkins Christman said in a Facebook comment. "We need education when test scores are so low."

A display was put out on the quad: 17 white chairs with a red rose on each seat. On the back of each chair was a picture with the name and age of the victims from Florida. 

Many students could be seen crying or praying in front of the memorial. 

"It's an insurmountable loss," said 11th grader Aryhk Kolidakis, looking up after a prayer. "It's unbelievable this would happen at all, let alone it become a regular thing today." 

The school was also giving students time to register to vote if they were 18 or preregister to vote if they were 16 or older. 

Westview High School in the Poway Unified School District and Point Loma High School also held their own events.

In University City, 17 trees at Standley Middle School have been dedicated to the victims of the Florida school shooting.

Students in other cities like Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, Miami and across the Bay Area, from the elementary to college level either participated or are expected to take part.

The more than 3,000 walkouts were organized by Empower, the youth wing of the Women's March, which brought hundreds of thousands to Washington, D.C. last year.

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