SEBASTIAN – Students around the country are planning to participate in a coordinated national walkout Wednesday in response to the high school shooting in Parkland.
The walkouts and school protests have been happening since the Parkland shooting on Feb. 14, and students want to voices heard. School administrators have made it clear that this is something they will not accept.
One week after Parkland shooting, several students at the Sebastian River High School and Sebastian River Middle School planned a walkout.
Mariah Skolinsky, who’s an eighth-grader at Sebastian Middle School, said she did participate in the student walkout and was punished for it. Mariah, like most of the students, wants action on gun reform.
The 13-year-old said she walked out of school because the students are never heard. She says the schools act like they don’t understand what’s going on. Mariah said the Parkland teen survivors and their protests inspired her.
When Mariah and her best friend walked out of Sebastian River Middle, they tried to join a larger protest at the high school down the street. She said the high school students were telling them how proud they were as middle school students for trying to get their voices heard.
However, Mariah and her friend were not allowed to participate in the protest at the high school. A school resource officer took them back to the middle school where the principal punished them for leaving the campus.
For the walkout, Mariah says she got indoor suspension for the remainder of the day and had to attend Saturday school. She was also not allowed to participate in her school dance.
Most schools ask their students not to walk out because of safety issues. Some students won’t participate because they don’t believe it’s safe.
Some parents refuse to send their kids to school Wednesday because they don’t feel it’s safe. They just feel it’s an excuse not to participate in school today.
There are other parents who feel students should have the right to protest peacefully without repercussions from the school administrators.
Mariah believes her punishment was worse than those who skip school without a reason.
While Mariah’s mother said she shouldn’t have left campus, she asked her to write a 500-word essay explaining why she did what she did.
“As a young female, I’ve discovered our voices are never heard. I saw this walkout as a chance to be heard to spread how I feel. We’re always taught to keep quiet because our opinions never mattered in the past but it’s my goal to make our opinions matter in the future. Starting with this walkout,” Mariah wrote in her essay.
Mariah’s mother felt so passionately about her daughter’s cause that she met with the school principal, who she says called the incident a total “misunderstanding.” Now, Mariah will be allowed to participate in her eighth-grade dance and other school activities.
Mariah said she will not allow this experience to stop her from participating in future protests.