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Tompkins County Students Join Nationwide Walkouts

A brother and sister, students at Ithaca High School and Boynton Middle School, March 14, 2018
A brother and sister, students at Ithaca High School and Boynton Middle School, March 14, 2018

TOMPKINS COUNTY (WSKG) - Students in Tompkins County joined thousands across the country in the school walkouts on March 14. Some school administrations tolerated them while other warned of punishment if students participated. 

Wednesday morning was a snowy one in Ithaca. At 10 o'clock, over 200 students streamed out of Ithaca High School. For 17 minutes they were quiet. When it was over, they went back to class.

But this was Ithaca, which has a reputation for tolerance and protest.

In Groton, leaving the building wasn’t an option. First, there was 17 seconds of silence for the entire school in their classrooms.

"So the 17 seconds kinda seemed a little disrespectful to me because it’s, like, just 17 seconds when it was 17 lives lost," said Angela Dennis, 14, a student at Groton. "It’s like literally, a fourth of a minute."

After those few seconds, Dennis joined hundreds of students who chose to observe 17 minutes of silence in the auditorium.

She said she participated in the in-school walk out in remembrance of those killed in Parkland. 

"Well, I feel like it was just kinda like the right thing to do for me," she said, "I didn’t really do it much for like the gun violence thing because I don’t know much about it. But I was just honoring the kids that had died."

At Newfield High School, students organized speeches and handed out information about how to contact congressional representatives. According to student organizer Lena Kennell, the principal threatened suspension or detention if they mentioned or held signs about the NRA.

WSKG called the principal of Newfield High School to ask about this but we were referred to the district superintendent's office. WSKG spoke to the superintendent, who said she could not verify or deny what the principal said to a student.

For Jake Brown, 18, and a student at Newfield, gun violence is a main issue.

"I believe that there is a big problem with gun violence in this country and something needs to be done because so far Congress has only been inactive," said Brown. "They haven’t done anything to stop what is going on."

These young people aren’t finished. On March 24 a nationwide march is planned. Students around this region plan to make their voices heard, again. 

NOTE: Recording of Jake Brown was provided by Lena Kennell, a student organizer at Newfield High School.