Local students take part in walkouts, organized events

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) -- Students at several schools in the Washoe County School District joined the thousands of other students across the nation who walked out of class Wednesday to honor the victims of last month's school shooting in Florida and demand stricter gun laws.

At Reno High School, about 100 students walked out of class at 10:00 a.m. and stood out in the front of the school. They were joined by adult community members holding signs to show they support the students and their show of solidarity. The walkout lasted 17 minutes, just as it was planned at other schools around the country.

Similar walkouts were held at North Valleys High School and Yerington High School.

The Washoe County School District had released a statement saying it would not excuse students and teachers who decide to take part in the demonstrations. The District said it was following mandatory attendance policies and laws across the state of Nevada.

At the public schools in Carson City, there were no students who walked out of school with an unexcused absence on Wednesday, according to Dan Davis, Public Information Officer for the Carson City School District.

Student leadership groups had worked with faculty members at several schools to organize events that would empower students on this day to let their voices be heard and keep them on campus.

At Carson High School, a peaceful walkout onto the football field was organized. Students were told they could exercise their right to not participate, but that it was an option of they wanted to walk out into the bleachers and be a part of the 17-minute rally at 10:00 a.m.

Tobias Arreola, a Carson High senior, was one of the organizers and speakers at the event.

"When I saw the number of kids out here, I was just surprised," he said. "These stands don't fill up that way even at football games."

Arreola didn't just use the microphone to talk about the victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting one month ago. He also talked about the issue of school safety and how he believed lawmakers need to do more.

"We wanted this to be a learning opportunity for them to say how can we stand up as a group for something that might seem controversial but be able to do it in a productive way versus doing it in a negative, non-productive way," said Tasha Fuson, Carson High School Principal.

Over at Eagle Valley Middle School, leadership students organized a display in the hallway in an effort to engage students. It featured 17 empty desks. Each desk had the name and picture of one of the Florida school shooting victims.

The teachers also used their advisory class at the beginning of the school day to discuss school safety with students and address their concerns. And on this day of walkouts, educators encouraged kids to "walk up."

"Basically, what we want students to do is walk up to another kid, introduce themselves, get to know somebody else, invite them to lunch, ask them how their day was," said Lee Conley, Eagle Valley Middle School Principal.

Conley explained the purpose of that was to promote a positive learning environment in school and in life.

"You're not going to eliminate it, but decrease the possibility of someone being so angry or withdrawn or not part of a community that they feel the only step that they have is to go out and do something as drastic as the shooting," said Conley.

While this National School Walkout Day may be over, some students at Carson High School say their mission is not. Senior Tobias Arreola says he is encouraging his peers to take part in a march that will show solidarity with others marching in the March For Our Lives Rally, scheduled to take part in Washington, D.C.


Yerington school walkout/Photo courtesy KOLO viewer Angela