Students across Central Virginia hold demonstrations for national school walkout

Heritage, Appomattox high schools, P.L. Dunbar Middle held different protests

By Magdala Louissaint - Lynchburg Bureau Reporter

LYNCHBURG, Va. - An hour before the bell rang, in a different form of demonstration, students, pastors and parents gathered around the flagpole at Appomattox High School to pray in solidarity for Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in Lakeland ,Florida.

"Being a part of this and learning from this and taking it back to them and help, help them as best as I possibly can,” Brodie Williams, a junior at Appomattox High School, said. 

Thirty minutes west of Appomattox at Heritage High School, students were spreading a different message, this one to lawmakers. 

"There needs to be some reformations. So different age limits or something. We just something really needs to change. There's been a lot of access to guns that have caused all these massacres,” Marabeth Hammersmith, senior at Heritage High and walkout organizer, said. 

For the 17 people who lost their lives, student leaders only had in 17 minutes to prove to their peers that making the decision to walk out is more than just "skipping class."

"They should stay woke. And speak out and if they ever feel uncomfortable about something, going on within the school, stay something. Stop being quiet," Katequa "Keke" Burns, senior at Heritage High and walkout organizer, said.

Heritage students say it’s been a challenging school year for them. They lost a classmate to suicide and believe bullying was the reason for that. They also said bullying is the underlining cause of many school shootings, and from this day on that's one thing they want to stop in their hallways. 

"Be a unite and just fight for each other's lives and safety,” Hammersmith said.

"We just hope that all this will turn it all around and just bring positivity as well as a voice for those that just go unnoticed,” Burns said.

P.L. Dunbar Middle School students wrote letters to lawmakers, walked around the track near their school and dropped their letters in a bin to mail off to legislators.

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