LIVE! Today's student walkout

LIVE! Today's student walkout

High school senior Joey Wright covered today's walkout at Urbana on Snapchat. Watch his story by clicking here.

At St. Joseph-Ogden, 12 students who walked out were rerouted by high school administrators to the auditorium rather than outdoors.

Principal Gary Page said officials decided to go that route due to safety concerns.

“That was a huge concern for a lot of schools,” he said.

— Nora Maberry-Daniels

* * * * *

11:45 a.m.

At 10 a.m., small groups of Hoopeston, Georgetown-Ridge Farm and Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin students joined their peers nationwide to protest gun violence in schools.

In Hoopeston, middle school and high school students stood peacefully behind the building by the track for about 17 minutes, then returned to class, according to Superintendent Suzi Hesser.

“We understand that our students may be feeling anxiety, fear and even anger about gun violence in schools,” Hesser wrote in a short note to parents about the walkout. “We respect the right of our students to advocate for causes that are important to them and support their efforts to do so in an authorized and orderly manner while at school.”

Hesser also thanked students for how they conducted themselves “while allowing their civic voices to be heard.”

At the same time, Georgetown-Ridge Farm High School students gathered around two benches in front of the school.

“They were standing up for the Parkland students,” Principal Kevin Thomas said, adding administrators supported their peaceful protest.

“This is important to everyone, and we feel it’s important that our students had a voice,” he said.

Thomas said law enforcement was also present.

But “it had nothing to do with keeping our kids under control; it was about making sure they were safe.”

— Noelle McGee

* * * * *

11:25 a.m.

During today’s walkout at Central, an adult wearing a "Make America Great Again" cap stood in the middle of a group of students, reading out loud from a book until school officials and Champaign police moved him along.

— Stephen Haas

* * * * *

11:20 a.m.

Shortly after 10 a.m., dozens of Centennial High School students poured out of their school’s doors, waving signs that said “Never Again” and chanting for more gun control laws. After walkout organizers spoke, senior Valena Greene called for a moment of silence in remembrance of the victims of the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., last month. 

“Not one more life lost,” she said. “Not one more.” 

After the moment of silence, organizers called for the students to return to class, signaling the end of the roughly 17-minute protest. 

“I thought it went really well,”  organizer Juliann Xu said. “The group and I were worried about not having enough support coming out, especially since there were threats of social probation and unexcused absences. When I saw everyone coming out, I almost cried.” 

Student Angela Maligaya said she was moved by the school’s demonstration.

“This shows how much we care about each other, and about every single student out there. It’s not only for us, but for everyone who isn’t here.”   

— Lyndsay Jones

* * * * *

11:05 a.m.

An estimated half of the 1,100 students at Urbana High School walked out of classes Wednesday morning to pay tribute to the students killed in a high school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a month ago.

“I’m very proud of how they handled things this morning,” said school board President John Dimit, who was among more than 100 adults at the mostly silent demonstration across from the high school in Carle Park. “It harkens back to when I went to the candlelight service for Kent State (in May 1970). This was better than that. It was handled better by the organizers. All the kids organized this. It was excellent, well done.”

Dimit said he was an undergrad at the University of Illinois at the time that four students at Kent State were shot by National Guardmen during a campus protest.

State Rep. Carol Ammons, whose son attends UHS, had tears streaming down her face after the demonstration on Wednesday.

“I could hold it together until they took the names away,” Ammons said of the students who held sheets with the names of students killed at the Florida high school. “That’s when you realize that those children are gone forever. They’re not coming back.

“So we have take responsibility as adults and do something to make sure there are no other children or their families who have to experience this.”

Urbana Mayor Diane Marlin called the event “very moving” and said the “students did it the right away.” 

“I’m mayor for a few years but I’m a mom and we have got to change the culture in this country and bring some sense to our gun laws,” she said. “There’s nothing more important in our country than our kids and we have got to start thinking of them.”

As the students streamed out of the high school around 10 a.m., adults formed a corridor along the sidewalk at Carle Park and applauded and shouted, “We’re so proud of you” or “Way to go, Urbana.”

School administrators walked around the perimeter of the gathering to observe the students who for the most part were quiet and respectful.

— Tom Kacich

* * * * *

11 a.m.

More than 50 students gathered in the cafeteria at Monticello High School. Three students — Nick Wolter, Cassidy Marcum and Emmaline Witt — read the names and brief biographies of the victims from last month's school shooting in Florida. Following that was a moment of silence.

— Mike Heiniger

* * * * *

10:20 a.m.

Freshman Aubrey Whalen was the only Unity High School student who walked out at 10 a.m.

“My teacher was like, ‘You realize you’re going to get in trouble, don’t you?’ ” Whalen said. “I said, ‘This is my First Amendment right.’ ”

“I feel bad for the (Parkland) kids and their families. I’m doing it out of respect, not just to walk out or be rebellious.”

Whalen was disappointed with Unity’s response to the shooting.

“They just kind of pushed everything aside and didn’t talk about it,” she said. “The school should have had an assembly or something.”

— Christine Walsh

* * * * *

* * * * *

* * * * *

10 a.m.

Hundreds of area students joined a nationwide protest over gun violence by walking out of school about 10 a.m. today.

Outside Champaign Central, students held a banner that read "#NEVERAGAIN" a month after a gunman killed 17 at a high school in Florida.

— Stephen Haas

* * * * *

9 a.m.

Senior Joey Wright is on the scene at Urbana High School and covering today's events on Snapchat.

Follow along here:

Orange arm bands have been handed out for students to wear during today's 10 a.m. walkout.

English teacher Sara Jones said this morning: 'I believe my students deserve to feel safe not only in school, but outside of school as well."

* * * * *

Original story, published 7 a.m. Wednesday:

Higher-education officials across the state took to Twitter in recent days to reassure students who choose to leave school for today's national walkout that any punishment received won't affect college admissions.

The University of Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Illinois State and Illinois Wesleyan joined institutions across the nation in letting students know their admissions packets would not be viewed any differently should they be disciplined for protesting peacefully.

"Future Illini: We support students engaging in dialogue that further informs their worldview," the UI said in a tweet. "Non-academic disciplinary action as a result of participating in peaceful protest won't affect a student's admission decision."

ISU took a similar stance, tweeting: "Illinois State University would like to assure high school students that disciplinary action associated with their participation in peaceful protests will not impact their admission to the University in any way."

The statements came after students across the nation — including many in Champaign, Urbana and surrounding communities — pledged to walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. today and remain outside and protest peacefully for 17 minutes. They'll do so in memoriam of the 17 people who died in the Feb. 14 shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school and in protest of congressional inaction regarding gun laws.

Officials in the Champaign and Urbana school districts have reassured students that, if they conduct themselves peacefully, there will be no severe punishments, including suspensions, if they choose to walk out.

In Unit 4, officials told students there "wouldn't be a consequence" if they walk out, since the normal punishment of social probation wouldn't apply during next week's spring break.

Urbana students were also informed they would not face disciplinary consequences if their behavior remained peaceful. This included University Laboratory High School, which in an email added that faculty who participated would also not be penalized.

"There will be no academic or disciplinary consequences for students (or faculty) who participate in this brief exercise," Uni High administrators stated. "As a school, we also want to support students and teachers who do not choose to walk out. There will be teachers and administrators in the building to supervise and support them."

Sophomore Salma El-Naggar said students at Uni came together quickly after the Parkland shooting to organize their part of the walkout, driven by frustration that yet another mass shooting occurred at a school.

"It's so common and easy for students our age to get a gun," she said. "It's really terrifying."

— Lyndsay Jones

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ohnoes wrote on March 14, 2018 at 7:03 am

Three to four times as many people are killed per year in cars as with guns, yet for some reason it's a wonderful rite of passage for 16 year olds to get their driver's licenses.  If you really care about death, then cars are much more terrifying and dangerous from a statistical point of view, but we don't think twice about getting on the road.  It's our reptilian minds that take the gory images and wall to wall coverage from school shootings and make us much more repelled.  This isn't to diminish the killings that happen, something needs to be done about it, but I think it's important to realign perspectives on the topic, to step back and ask ourselves why we're willing to impose on the rights of a segment of the population, 99.9% of whom have never harmed anyone and 99.9% of that population never will, whose values we don't share because people are dying, but in spite of tens of thousands of deaths, it's never occurred to us to raise the driving age.  Some would make a distinction that guns "only purpose is to kill", well no actually, it's a hunk of metal, they don't come with a document that says "You are to kill with this creation", just like cars don't come with one that says "You aren't meant to kill with this creation", but people have used cars to kill intentionally.  They are both inanimate objects, guns are on record as having stopped tens of thousands of crimes per year without being fired, but we hardly hear about that unless we go looking for information, the incidents rarely make it onto police reports, but government studies have shown it's true.  A gun can be used for peaceful intimidation, much more than it is used to actually shoot someone, just as cars are used to intimidate other people on the road with road rage, if you've driven for any amount of time you've probably experienced this, you may have engaged in it yourself.  Some may say "that's exactly why people shouldn't have guns!", then why are we okay with people owning cars?  If death and serious injuries are what we're concerned about at the end of the day?  "But cars are useful!"  Did you read the part where I mentioned that violent crimes, rapes, murders are prevented by people owning guns?  Without shots fired?  And those crimes happen without guns being used by perpetrators, they only need to be strong enough, aggressive enough, determined enough.  Right now the UK has a serious knife attack problem, they're trying to ban knives!  How in the world do you do that btw?  One of the simplest tools than can be made with sheet metal, something everyone has in their kitchen.  Imange Thanksgiving dinner without a carving knife! hahaha  The real thing that needs to be banned if you want to really ban violence, is to ban brains and opposable thumbs.  Or you can realize that you can't create a utopia with laws for every bad thing you can think of.

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm
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What a bunch of dumb comparisons to waste that many words on. Do you really think anyone besides the Neanderthals you stole your talking points from actually agrees with you? Guns only intention is to kill. Cars and knives are real tools with real purposes besides killing people. Guns are made to kill whether or not the money hungry manufacturer that certainly doesn't care about you puts an insert inside the box telling you to kill with it. What else are guns used for? Hunting is killing and you can do it with a bow or a bolt action, no need for an assault rifle that your kid will take to school because you don't lock it up in a safe (right Chief?) It appears someone already banned brains in your world, now only if they'd take your opposable thumbs.

d43 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 10:03 pm


According to the CDC motor vehicle traffic deaths and firearms deaths in 2015 were virtually the same.

GLG wrote on March 14, 2018 at 8:03 am

Will these children be in school long enough today that the state pays the daily aid to the schools? Don't the kids have to be in school for so many hours a day?

Maybe next week they can take off to protest the killings in Champaign in the last week.

Champaignite wrote on March 14, 2018 at 9:03 am

It's a 17 minute walkout.  I think they'll get their minutes in for the day.

Townie217 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 10:03 am

Are you really concerned about the daily aid, or are you just trolling? Maybe you could take off work and demand action from the Police Dept?

ForReal wrote on March 14, 2018 at 8:03 am

So if students want to walk out of class in support of the 2nd amendment, to protest against abortion, or for some other non-PC reason, would it be okay? 

This seems like a giant can of worms being opened. Who gets to decide what protests are acceptable and therefore won't be punished??

Townie217 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 10:03 am

NRA does plenty of protesting in support of the 2nd Amendment.  And abortion, really?  It's 2018, stop trying to tell women what to do with their bodies.  If you don't like an abortion, don't get one.  Don't like guns, don't buy one. 

APC wrote on March 14, 2018 at 10:03 am

The only problem with the last sentence is that it doesn't really parallel with the one before it.  The decision as to whether or not to obtain an abortion is an individual choice that does not affect anyone else (other than arguably the spouse and ignoring the argument that the fetus is a person, which is not relevant to the point here).  Guns have the potential to affect a relatively large number of people.  Thus, even if you don't like guns, you can still be adversely affected by someone else's gun, whereas you are not going to be affected by someone else's abortion.


Chambanacitizen wrote on March 14, 2018 at 9:03 am

You went right off the rails. When's the last time there was a mass abortion in a school? Grow up.. or at least grow a piece of a brain.

Townie217 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 10:03 am

These students should be appluaded and they are the future in politics. I am glad they are learning more with this walkout than they could have by staying in the classroom.  I am more concerned with the leadership at Unit 4 and especially in Urbana.  Don Owen is going to fire 6 deans and replace them with non-certified personnel who have no experience and not in the union.  He is doing this to control more people and he even has people spy on teachers.  The School Board should reconsider this decision and stand with the Deans, teachers, parents, and most important, the kids.  


This is why kids are motivated to vote corrupt people out of elected office. 

Dread Pirate DNT wrote on March 14, 2018 at 11:03 am
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You nut jobs kicking and screaming and crying about your poor little assault rifles being attacked should be the first people looked at when it comes to taking guns away from people. Yes there is a mental health crisis when it comes to guns and that is that these lunatics who value a murder machine more than a child's life.

Never trust people that want to shove their ideals down your throat no matter how many people get hurt. Guns, Christianity, false patriotism/nationalism, etc. These are the people you don't want alone with your children.

Bravo students.

Citizen1 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

Students, who choose to protest and are not forced to by teachers, should be allowed to peacefully protest in a safe area, that is, not in a street.  These protests should be held after or before school hours so that learning is not distrubed.  To allow otherwise infringes on the rights of students to be educated, the whole purpose of public education.  It is not the schools role to take sides, interupted learning for one side or another, to enter into politics or support public gathering not within the scope of education.  Get out of the gun control, gun rights issue.  Start reporting students who display potentially violent actions rather than make politically correct excuses for such students.

Townie217 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 7:03 pm

Your comment reeks of an elitist attitude.  These kids are learning more in that 17 minutes then they would have spending the day in school.  These kids WILL be responsible for common sense gun control.  Once the old people realize that, this country will be better off.  

casualmatch wrote on March 14, 2018 at 12:03 pm

The information about the Uni High walkout is inaccurate. It's incorrectly listed as Urbana High and given the same coverage as the real UHS, despite being below tweets from the Uni High Gargoyle. Far more than half the student body participated, far fewer than 100 adults did, and John Dimit has no relationship to Uni. Additionally, Urbana schools having no consequences has no bearing on whether or not Uni will, so I'm not quite sure why they're lumped together. Otherwise, it's great to see students making these kinds of waves, although this oversight is disappointing. 

Cosway999 wrote on March 15, 2018 at 1:03 pm

I agree that there are issues with the information about Uni High. "Urbana students were also informed they would not face disciplinary consequences if their behavior remained peaceful. This included University Laboratory High School" is still ambiguous at best. It lumps together the decisions of the Urbana administration with those of the Uni High administration, which is just not accurate.

Also, I find it odd that the tweet from Uni High is not embedded towards the end of the article, where Uni High is first mentioned.

GLG wrote on March 14, 2018 at 7:03 pm

I think the police do a great job of bringing criminals in, with no cooperation from bystanders who witness these shootings/killings. Too bad the SA Reitz and her judge buddies don't keep these "Gun Criminals" locked up where they belong and choose to let them off with reduced charges or no charges at all. What would you sugest the police do? Just let these gang bangers continue to kill each other and just go out and collect the bodies? 

d43 wrote on March 14, 2018 at 10:03 pm