CHARLES CITY, Iowa- Charles City middle schoolers were back in class Thursday after around 50 students participated in a school walkout Tuesday.
Josiah Cunnings, a Charles City Schools sixth-grader, led the protest hoping to send a message of change when it comes to the accessibility of AR-15 weapons.
“We need change,” he said. “People think that just because Charles City is a small town that it won’t happen here.”
Cunnings said he got the idea to coordinate a walkout after learning about the Parkland, Florida, school shooting.
“It’s a good thing to share what you’re worried about,” Cunnings said. “People need to be aware of what is happening.”
Cunnings said he had been planning the event for about a month, but didn’t tell school officials until the day of at 9 a.m.
“The reason why I didn’t tell them immediately was because I knew they were either going to change something about it or stop it completely,” he said.
Administrator Rick Gabel, the Charles City Schools Middle School Principal, worked quickly to set measures to keep students safe and organized.
Staff said they looked at how other walkouts throughout the country had been held and allowed the students to have 17 minutes to raise their concerns. They said walkouts like this are a distraction to classes but it can also be an education tool. But they still wish it was handled differently.
“We think there are better ways to do it that are more sustainable,” said Gabel. “They could use social media to organize their information, call radio stations and TV stations.”
When students returned, those who participated filled out evaluations of what they learned for the walkout.
“Students came back in, sat down, and started writing immediately,” said Gabel.
With the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting on Friday, Cunning said he would hold another one if they didn’t have the day off from school.
“There would be a lot more notice about it and maybe more people would be able to do it since it is more of a national thing,” Cunning said.
Of the nearly 50 students that participated in the walkout, only five had not turned in their evaluations as of Thursday.