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Western NC students walk out to protest mass shootings

February 20, 2018

Around 50 Polk County High School students participate in a walk-out from school on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018 in Columbus, N.C. The students protested the epidemic of mass shootings in American schools, speaking in front of the school's sign along Hwy. 108 in Columbus, NC as supporters cheered them on. (Tim Kimzey/The Spartanburg Herald-Journal via AP)

COLUMBUS, N.C. (AP) — Students who walked out of classes in western North Carolina to protest mass shootings at U.S. schools say teenagers are tired of being ignored on the issue.

The Times-News of Hendersonville reports about 50 students left Polk High School on Tuesday and walked to the school entrance sign where they were greeted by an equal number of supporters.

“We’re not just angered teenagers; we are infuriated and saddened human beings who are sick of being ignored,” said senior Luke Collins, the student body secretary-treasurer. “We are sick of living in fear.”

Students held cards with the names of 17 people killed last week at a high school in Parkland, Florida, when a former student went on a rampage with an assault rifle.

Senior Drew Bailey, the student body president, described the mass shootings as “a humanitarian issue. How many people are going to fall victim to gun violence before lawmakers step in and make a change?”

Organizer Emily Hogan, a senior, encouraged students to vote and to run for office.

“We are going to register people to vote, we are going to fundraise, we are going to organize, we are going to take your seats and then one day we are going to run for office because I want to dream of running for office, not running from school shooters,” Hogan said.

Students returned to class after the protest, which lasted about 20 minutes. There was one dissident voice, a truck driver who revved his engine to silence the speakers.

Polk County Schools Superintendent Aaron Greene supervised the event and helped direct traffic into the school. “We obviously support the First Amendment rights of students and we try to get them to go about it the right way,” he said.

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Information from: Times-News, http://www.blueridgenow.com

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