GARRETSON, S.D. — School administrators in eastern South Dakota have canceled a planned student walkout after talk of it drew hundreds of negative comments on Facebook.
With administrators’ support, students at Garretson High School planned a 17-minute walkout and period of silence to honor the 17 people killed in the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Garretson students joined others nationwide in scheduling the walkout for April 20, which will mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
Student Peyton Sage, 18, told the Argus Leader that her Facebook post about the event drew backlash from angry adults.
“We had over 300 Facebook comments with adults just throwing a huge fit about it,” she said. “They were just being really, really rude. They were insulting our intelligence … making us feel like we did not have a voice.”
The comments ranged from opinions on the Second Amendment to attacks on the student organizers. Some parents’ comments expressed concern about how the walkout would affect students.
Superintendent Guy Johnson said many of the people commenting made assumptions about the event without understanding its purpose. Nevertheless, Principal Chris Long canceled the event Tuesday in response to the criticism.
Resident Misten Long, who recently moved to the area with her husband and young children, expressed disappointment over the principal’s decision. Long followed the comments on Facebook, and said she believes school is a space where students should learn how politics work.
“I really felt like he was caving to the pressure of some vocal members of the community,” Long said.
Sage said she and others still plan to demonstrate and will accept the school’s consequences. She encouraged students throughout South Dakota to follow her lead.
“They tried to silence us, but we’re still going to make a statement,” Sage said. “We’re still going to take a stand, and we’re still going to be walking out of the school on April 20.”
Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com