Area high school students plan call for safety during Friday walkouts


Students at North Scott High School are planning a call for safety during a walkout on Friday, April 20.

The 17-minute event will remember each Parkland, Florida, shooting victim and the anniversary of the Columbine High shooting in Colorado.

"For me, it's really important to make sure our schools are safe, so we can learn in an effective way," said Alexis Raleigh, a junior at North Scott, who is helping to organize the event.  "Be able to get the most of our education without being fearful of our safety."

Raleigh, 16, says that the walkout is not necessarily for gun control, but for legislation to address school safety.

"Addressing safety in schools is a lot more complex of an issue than just taking away guns," she continued.

At North Scott, that includes everything from classroom policies to using school resource officers.

"They realize our community is strong believers in the Second Amendment, so they're just looking at how we can promote school safety," said North Scott Principal Shane Knoche.

While participating students will be marked as absent, most won't face punishment.  At  Pleasant Valley High School and Rock Island High School, it will be an unexcused absence without parental permission.

Pleasant Valley students are leading a 90-minute session on Friday.

"It is not our role as a school district to teach students what to think, but it is our role to help develop their capacities on how to think," said Pleasant Valley Superintendent Jim Spelhaug.

Administrators say that participating must be more than just wanting to miss a class.

"It has to be, what are you going to do after this?" Knoche said.

"You are informing yourself," Spelhaug continued.  "You're listening to the views of others.  Most important in this great country of ours is that you're exercising your franchise to vote."

For participants like Alexis Raleigh, it's about thinking and acting.

"Being at North Scott has really taught me how important it is to take a stand for something," she concluded.  "If you believe in something, don't just say that you believe in it.  Do something about it."