CARTERET COUNTY, N.C. (WNCT) — Wednesday morning, students across the nation walked out of their classrooms to show their support for the victims of last month’s Parkland, Florida school shooting. But one local school took a different approach.
Students at West Carteret High School are making sure their voices are heard in the wake of the Stoneman Douglas school shooting.
“It’s devastating,” said eleventh-grade student Jamison Paylor. “Like West Carteret could be the next one. We never know. I mean i hope it’s not obviously but we could be the next one.”
Wednesday morning, they held a ceremony that included songs, student speeches, and a candlelight vigil for the seventeen victims of last month’s shooting.
The students said they originally approached school administrators making sure that they wouldn’t get in trouble for walking out of school. Administration said that was a safety hazard, and advised that instead of walking out, they walk into the auditorium to come together.
The students called for stricter gun control.
“I am tired of lives being taken by school shooters,” said Paylor. “And I am tired of sending thoughts and prayers. Because thoughts and prayers don’t stop bullets.”
Carteret County Schools Superintendent Mat Bottoms said the county thinks giving the students a safe way to express their views is more productive than walking out of the building.
“Just leaving the building doesn’t accomplish a lot,” said Bottoms. “So we wanted our students to get engaged. We wanted our students to have a benefit when the day was over.”
The students said they hope their efforts will inspire real change in their school environment.
“I know that we live in a very conservative area,” said Senior Brooke Rogers, “and that talking about gun control doesn’t really fit the status quo. But I think that we wanted to demand change and feel like we could really make a difference.”
The student-led ceremony was optional for all students, and about five hundred chose to attend.
Superintendent Bottoms said Carteret County Schools have taken extra precautions since last month’s shooting to try to keep the schools as safe as possible for the students.