Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Students, administrators prepare for Wednesday school walk-out

By Katie Finlon 

Students from several high schools in northern Illinois are preparing for the national school walk-out on Wednesday.

In Rockford, Jefferson High School senior Roberto Vargas says he is one of several students who are organizing a walk-out at the school to protest gun violence and to call for gun-law reform in the wake of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., that killed 14 students and three school staff members.

Vargas says he hopes all 1,700 students at Jefferson walk out in solidarity Wednesday. He and his friends planned this so students can make their voices heard.

“If we don’t use this chance now,” Vargas said, “then we might not get a chance for another two, three or even more years.”

Rockford school officials say they recently met with principals to discuss schools in the district potentially participating in the walk-out. They provided the following statement:

“Rockford Public Schools building principals continue to measure students’ interest in Wednesday’s walkout. As an educational institution, we want our students to remain in the classroom. That said, we know students’ voices are powerful. We are encouraging our students to voice their concerns in other ways, such as writing letters to legislators, inviting guest speakers or supporting local efforts tied to the March 24 event in Washington D.C., which is outside of regular school hours.

“Administrators have plans in place to ensure students remain safe if they choose to participate. Each school’s administrative team is responsible for any disciplinary issues that may arise from this event. Parents and students are encouraged to contact their building principal with questions or concerns.”

DeKalb Schools Supt. Jamie Craven says students from the high school and two middle schools in the district also plan to walk out Wednesday morning.

“We’re neither encouraging nor discouraging participation,” Craven said. “However, we want to make sure that it’s a safe, orderly and well-organized walk-out for those students who choose to participate.”

Craven says no disciplinary action will be taken for students who protest. He says he wanted to make it a teachable moment for students as well.

Sycamore school officials were not available for comment.

Other area participating high schools include St. Charles North High School, Kaneland High School and Yorkville High School.

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