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Columbus Students Join National School Walkout For Gun Control

Nick Evans
At South High School, Katie Somphantabasouk and Joshua Muncy (carrying banner) lead students in a walkout to protest for gun control.

On a snowy football field, students from Columbus South High School joined thousands across the country  on Wednesday morning in holding a demonstration for stricter gun control.

At 10 a.m., about a hundred students filed out of South High School. As organizers read the names of the 17 people killed at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, students released a balloon into the air for each victim.

Jordan Yeck, a junior at South High, urged students to lean on their elected officials.

“We know that change is possible and well overdue, but that’s why we’re acting now,” Yeck said. “Lawmakers need to hear our voices on gun laws. Stricter gun laws means a safer community for everyone.”

Junior Katie Somphantabasouk said the importance of ending gun violence resonates with students.

“As students who live on the South Side attending South High School, we have been affected by gun violence in our community,” Somphantabasouk said. “We want to show family and friends of the 17 victims killed at Stoneman Douglas High School that they are not alone.  They will continuously be in our prayers throughout this journey to end gun violence.”

Senior Joshua Muncy told the crowd that students had to join together and demand action for any change to happen.

“As young adults we will not stop until our voices are heard," Muncy said.

Junior Serina Dweh then took up a bullhorn and led the students in a lap around the track—chanting slogans as they went.

“Safer!” she shouted. “Together!” the throng shouted in response. 

South High School is one of almost two dozen schools in and around Columbus that participated in the national walkout. Hundreds of other students attended walkouts at Olentangy Orange High School, Westerville city schools, Gahanna Lincoln High School, Grandview High School, and dozens of others.

While Columbus City Schools and other districts were supportive of the student-led efforts, administrators at West Liberty-Salem High School in Champaign County threatened detention or worse of any student who joined a walkout. Even so, about 10 students left class anyway.

Below, see images and videos from walkouts around Central Ohio.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.