Students around central Illinois honor lives lost in Parkland shooting

Students around central Illinois honor lives lost in Parkland shooting

Students at Athens High School will be hosting a walk-a-thon educational event in honor of the 17 lives who were lost in Parkland, Florida.

They will have signs with information about several school shootings that have taken place since 1999. They will be collecting donations and all the proceeds will be going to the #NeverAgain movement.

The plan is for it to be an educational event, teachers said they were willing to help when students came to them suggesting it.

"I want to help I said 'I want to help you', I said 'what can I do?'' said Athens High School English Teacher Justin Tarillion.

The walk walk-a-thon will be held on Friday from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Students from two other schools will be participating in walkouts. Clinton High School in Clinton, Illinois and Glenwood High School in Chatham, Illinois.

Students at Glenwood want to make it apparent that this is not meant to push a political message of any kind.

"I think a lot of people are mistaking this for gun control and to do this to prevent people from having guns," said Glenwood High School Sophomore Izzy Pruitt. "But that's a whole separate thing."

Students in Athens agree that their event is meant as a way to help honor the lives, not push a political message and that seeing it come to light has been rewarding.

"It was just a small idea that popped up into my head. It came a long way," Athens High School Students Kaitlyn Nace said.

They see the walk-a-thon as well as the walk-out as a way to talk about a difficult topic.

"I mean, there have been things like this happening for years now and I think it's important that we actually talk about it," Pruitt said.

Meanwhile at Clinton, the walkout has caused a bit of controversy as students may face repercussions.

Clinton High School administrators confirmed an email was sent out stating if students were to walk out, the school will follow the handbook policies for unexcused absences. Principal Jerry Wayne said he hopes people will treat each other in a respectful and fair way despite differences

Mark Pherigo, a Clinton resident said he does not see the harm in using the time to honor lives lost.

Overall, many students said they are pleased with how the administrators are working with them.

"If you don't communicate with the people in charge, it won't make an impact," Pruitt said.

In return, their educators are just as proud.

"The kids here realize that everything is greater than themselves," said Glenwood High School Principal Russ Tepen. "That they're thinking globally, they're thinking big picture and I think a lot of that has to do with the parents that we have and the community that we have that supports us. You know, they support those values, they encourage their kids to be independent thinkers."

Tarrillion agreed that he appreciated seeing students take charge for something they wanted to learn more and educate more people. "You know, you came and you wanted to do something. You walked into my room and you said, ‘hey this has happened and I want to make sure they know we are together’."

Tepen said students will not be in serious trouble for participating in the walkout. However, if they use the 17 minutes of silence as a chance to skip school or do something other than what the walkout is intended for, there will be consequences enacted.

They see the walkouts as a way to communicate freely.

Glenwood students did mention if students are taking a quiz or test Wednesday during the walkout, they encourage them to focus on school and to not disrupt what is happening in the classrooms.

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