Five Parker High School students left school Friday morning and gathered around a flagpole to talk about gun reform, equality and civil rights.
They joined thousands of their peers across the country for the National School Walkout, which encouraged high school students to walk out of class to protest school shootings.
The event took place on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado.
A Craig High School official said no Craig students participated in Friday’s walkout.
Last month, thousands of Rock County high-schoolers walked out of school to raise awareness about gun violence.
Asked about Friday’s small group, Parker senior Susanna Bucklin said many students did not want to be associated with walking out of school on April 20, a day that celebrates marijuana.
The walkout was not about weed, Bucklin said, but about gun violence.
Other students were influenced by peer pressure, said junior Claire Hintze. When they don’t see their friends walking out, they don’t either, she said.
Hintze and Bucklin were joined by junior Alex Ries and sophomores Sky Zachow and Rye Devalk.
The students said they don’t support repealing the Second Amendment or taking away people’s guns. They just want to feel safe at school.
Bucklin said she has received many messages—some border on harassment, she says—from people who dislike her activism.
Some have encouraged students to “walk up, not out,” an idea shared on social media that students should befriend quiet or lonely kids to prevent them from becoming school shooters.
It’s not that easy, the Parker students said. Many students who want to “walk up” have been bullies themselves, Hintze said.
Creating the impression that shy kids or kids with few friends are going to become school shooters is dangerous, they agreed.
The students said they are pleased with recent school safety measures that train students and staff for an active shooter situation. They said most school staff members have shown they care about students’ safety.
Patrick Gasper, a Janesville School District spokesman, said Parker officials had no plans to discipline the student protesters at this time.