An empty school classroom. Photo by Shaylor via Flickr
An empty school classroom. Photo by Shaylor via Flickr

Thousands of Southland students are expected to walk out of classes Wednesday as part of a nationwide action honoring the 17 people killed in last month’s high school shooting in Florida and calling for federal action to curb gun violence.

The walkouts will mark the one-month anniversary of the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The demonstrations are expected to begin at 10 a.m. and continue for 17 minutes — one for every person who died in the shooting.

Some school administrators and districts have worked with students to help organize events, with a goal of ensuring students confine their activities to campuses.

Los Angeles Unified School District Interim Superintendent Vivian Ekchian said last month she encourages students and schools to take part in “on-campus activities” to mark the anniversary of the shooting. But she urged parents to “talk to their children and encourage them not to leave campus.”

The Los Angeles Police Department issued a similar message, encouraging students “to express themselves” but noting “it is imperative students do it in a manner that is respectful to fellow classmates and Los Angeles residents, as well as remain on their respective campuses during the demonstration.”

“The department understands the need for students to participate in peaceful dialogue within the parameters of school administrators, however, the safety of our young adults relies on their willingness to remain on campus under the protection of the Los Angeles Unified School Police Department,” according to the LAPD.

“The Los Angeles Police Department will support the Los Angeles Unified School District as well as the many independent schools within our city limits with extra patrols and respond to any critical incidents that may arise.”

LAUSD officials said events have been organized at several campuses. At Carson High School, orange-clad students will walk from classrooms to the campus quad and hold a 17-minute sit-in featuring speeches from select students. At Eagle Rock Junior/Senior High School, Ekchian will take part in a silent remembrance that will feature 17 chairs bearing the names of the Parkland shooting victims.

At Francis Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley, students will link arms on the football field and take part in a “#NeverAgain” assembly. Venice High School students, also dressed in orange, will gather on the school’s front lawn, where 17 chairs will be placed with the names of the shooting victims.

Other planned events include:

— Miguel Contreras Learning Complex will host a student-organized demonstration and news conference calling for a national assault weapons ban and universal background checks, along with an end to random searches of students at LAUSD schools.

— Students at Culver City High School will gather on the campus football field for a rally and discussion about school safety.

— Students at Crescenta Valley High School will walk out of class and gather on the school track. They plan to release 17 doves in honor of the Parkland victims.

–City News Service

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