MINNETONKA — The West Metro Walkout planned to have several hundred students participating in the March 14 walkout at Minnetonka High School, said seniors Aberdeen Morrow and Katherine McDonald.
Three hundred fifty high school students involved in a group chat planned to walk out, including both liberals and conservatives, they said. McDonald said she heard some middle school students at Minnetonka Middle School East would be walking.
Shortly after the Parkland High School shooting on Feb. 14, the Women’s March announced a nationwide school walkout: that high school students across the country would leave campus for 17 minutes at 10 a.m. March 14 to recognize the 17 students who died in the shooting.
Students at eight west metro high schools used social media to connect and form the West Metro Walkout. Along with Minnetonka High School, students at Wayzata High School, Orono High School and Hopkins High School are involved in the walkout.
The walkout heappened after the Weekly News’ press time.
Administrators at Minnetonka High School have said the students would not be marked absent for walking out, Morrow and McDonald said.
A Go Fund Me for the walkout, “Minnesota West Metro School Walkout,” has raised $710 as of March 12. The walkout said on their Instagram page that they plan to use the money to create posters and T-shirts.
“We’re not for legislation; we’re for gun safety,” Morrow said.
Morrow said that while the core Minnetonka group of the West Metro Walkout will be protest at Rep. Erik Paulsen’s office, it is a bipartisan protest. The walkout is for gun safety, she said.
“Erik Paulsen is our representative who just hasn’t wanted to work to make schools safe,” she said. “We’re not just attacking Republicans.”
In October 2017, Paulsen, who received backing from the NRA and has a history of voting against gun restrictions, co-sponsored legislation that would ban bump stocks. Bump stocks are the device that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire at the rate of machine guns.
State Sen. Paul Anderson recently signed to a bipartisan bill to support universal background checks and mandatory reporting of lost or stolen firearms, a March 12 press release said.
In June 2017, a threat was made by a Minnetonka High School student against the school and the student was arrested before school began the next day.
“I’ve always felt safe in school,” McDonald said. “But it can happen anywhere.”