Almost three dozen students walked out of Woodgrove High School in Purcellville today as a demonstration in support of their Second Amendment rights to bear arms.
According to Wayde Byard, the school system’s public information officer, 28 students walked out of the school for 50 minutes, along with a few members of school staff who went with them to make sure they were safe.
In the student parking lot were also multiple vehicles with American flags and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags. One truck displayed a sign in the windshield with a message that pointed toward suicide, rather than homicide, as the issue. “We lose 123 people every day to suicide,” it read. “The suicide rate for children age 10 to 14 doubled from 2007 to 2014.”
Nick Corbett, a student at the school and the organizer of the walkout, said the demonstration was also to raise awareness and funds for local nonprofit organization Friends of Loudoun Mental Health.
“We have raised $160,” he said. “I think that is a good amount of money.”
The sign also solicited students to join the demonstration if they “believe that there is a problem with society today but it is not a gun problem.”
The walkout appears to be a counter protest to Wednesday’s walkout, which was organized to support the 17 teachers and students who were killed in a Florida school shooting last month and to call for tighter gun control measures. Thousands of Loudoun County students took part in the nationwide event and coordinated with school staff ahead of time.
Assistant Principal Christina Thompson announced to the school this morning that the walkout would not be sanctioned by the school and that demonstrations disrupting the school day would lead to “progressive” disciplinary action.
“My purpose in saying this is so that you all have all the information you need to make an informed decision and choice,” she said. “We need you to work with us through timely communication and discussion so that we can find opportunities that don’t disrupt the school day or instruction.”
Thompson further said that students who organized the walkout Wednesday worked with staff to coordinate logistics and discuss consequences.
“We tried to keep the event as neutral as possible by supporting school safety in general,” she said. “We understand that there are many issues of concern and you as students have rights and we want you to have a voice, but we can’t have a walkout for everything. Walking out of school during class disrupts the learning environment.”
Thompson suggested that there are other times in the day for such demonstrations, like before or after school or during lunch. She asked students to consider how their views could support events or activities that are already part of the school’s culture and curriculum.