Rapid City students discuss planned walkout

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RAPID CITY, S.D. -

Students at Rapid City Central and Stevens High School are mobilizing for a walkout protest later this month.

The students hope to raise awareness about gun violence following the latest school shooting in Florida at Stoneman Douglas Majory High School. They also want to spark a local discussion about school safety and to honor the victims of gun violence across the country.

In 1991, a student at Stevens High School held his class hostage at gunpoint for several hours. With this and recent national events, students are stressing the need for a renewed discussion on gun control.

Kendall Diehl, a sophomore at Stevens High School, is one of the students who is spearheading the peaceful protest. She spoke at a meeting from her house on Sunday, saying that lawmakers need to introduce background checks for guns. 

"And make sure not just anybody can have guns and that not just schools are safe from this, but everywhere in the community,” Diehl said.

The peaceful protest is scheduled for March 14 and will last for 17 minutes - one for each student killed in the Florida shooting.

According to Stevens High School Junior Keaghan Duffy, lawmakers need to be aware of the consequences of their legislative action and inaction.

“Our generation, we're not far off from being able to vote and also campaign for office,” said Duffy. “If something's not done about this, these are our lives. We will vote you out of office and replace you if something's not done."

Rapid City Area School District administrators do not encourage the protest, but they will not take their right to protest away. 

"This isn't something that we decided to put on because we don't want to be in class," said Gabrielle Smith, one of the walkout organizers from Rapid City Central High School. "A lot of us do realize that education is super important, but it is difficult for us to focus on our education when we are worried about being shot. That is a reality in the American school system today."

Walkout organizers are also planning a walkout on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School. Diehl said that they plan to march in downtown Rapid City.

There has been word of a walkout in March in the Douglas School District as well, but the Rapid City students who spoke with NewsCenter1 were not in communication with them.

To hear from RCAS on the issue, CLICK HERE.

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