For the second time this spring, Catonsville High School students walked out of class on Friday to protest gun violence in the nation’s schools.
The 25-minute walkout by the high school’s flagpole was held on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. Approximately 100 Catonsville students participated.
The nationwide walkout followed a similar one held on March 14 in reaction to the school shootings in Parkland, Fla., that killed 17 people.
Students on Friday waved signs that said, “Protect kids, not guns” and “Guns don’t die, children do!”
The evening before the walkout, Catonsville High Principal Matthew Ames sent a message to parents, warning that while a short protest on campus would be allowed, students who decided to leave campus would be subject to disciplinary action.
“As with any day, students who choose to leave campus during the school day place themselves in a potentially unsafe position as CHS staff are not able to supervise them,” Ames wrote.
Ames’ statement mirrored the Baltimore County school system’s.
“Baltimore County Public Schools supports students’ rights to express themselves, but also has a responsibility for student safety and instruction,” school system chief of staff Mychael Dickerson said in an emailed statement Friday afternoon. “On-campus activities allow us to protect students, while off-campus activities or demonstrations do not. To ensure student safety and minimal disruption of classes, students leaving campus without parental approval will face appropriate consequences as outlined in our student handbook.”
Teachers and administration were “a lot less cooperative with us this time,” said Margaret Montgomery-Snoke, 17. “But they did give us these 25 minutes, which we take as a compromise, and we’re grateful for.”
As students gathered at the flagpole, student Rayner Reinhardt spoke to the crowd and read the names of the students who were killed in Columbine, saying later: “Guns are made for the sole purpose of killing.”
“We are fighting for justice for every innocent victim,” student Sofia Brouse said to the crowd.
Most of the students who walked out stayed on the high school campus, and went back inside after 25 minutes. Only about nine students marched off campus to Frederick Road, waving signs.
“I’ve had enough of guns being everyone’s obsession,” said junior Jacob Lichtenfeld, 18, who walked off campus. He said he was willing to endure possible detention, because he thought his parents would be proud of him.