About 100 schools — primarily high schools but also some universities and middle schools — registered their walkout plans with national organizers, though the final tally is expected to be considerably higher.
The students shared their demands and stories of the walkout in real time on social media.
Press play above to hear WBEZ’s coverage of walkouts in two different communities — Niles West High School in north suburban Skokie and Plainfield North High School in the southwestern suburbs.
Max Freeman, a protest organizer at Oak Park and River Forest High School, told Morning Shift host Tony Sarabia prior to the march that participation in the #NationalSchoolWalkout is just the first step.
Max Freeman, a senior at Oak Park and River Forest High School and march organizer told @wbezmorning that Chicago-area students’ participation in the #NationalSchoolWalkout is just the first step. pic.twitter.com/WiSm6xm2jz— Morning Shift (@WBEZmorning) March 14, 2018
Some students spent the night sharing poster ideas and ways to bring gravitas to their message.
Preparation for tomorrow #MarchForOurLives #ProtectUsNotGuns— KLofton (@KLoftonforpeace) March 14, 2018
When: Wednesday March 14, 2018
What: March for our lives
Who:NLCP Students teachers and staff and outside support pic.twitter.com/6wi2FSdiOj
For those who didn’t make posters, their classmates brought extras to share.
Students in Plainfield and Crown Point, however, had a choice to make.
In conservative Plainfield today where students will be walking out in 10 minutes. Students who walk out can either have a meeting with lawmakers to learn about political process— or get one hour detention. @WBEZ pic.twitter.com/RdSc8sK0ax— Miles Bryan (@miles__bryan) March 14, 2018
There’s this assumption that students all over the country have massive support for these walk-outs from school administration. But reading tweets from my old high school @cphs_walkout — am reminded that there are schools were kids could get marked tardy for walking out.— Asma Khalid (@asmamk) March 14, 2018
An ACLU attorney said if student demonstrations are “disruptive to the learning and education mission of the school” then school officials are within their rights to intervene. Kenwood Academy students and Whitney M. Young Magnet High School students took to Twitter and Instagram to remind #Enough and #MachForOurLives followers that the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs Board of Education was a direct result of student protests and walkouts.
Here’s a snapshot of the protests as they unfolded.
Just before 10 a.m., thousands of students around the Chicago area started to pour out of their classrooms, posters in hand.
next period. pic.twitter.com/Dxg71NjWcJ— NVHS Student Walkout (@NVHSwalkout) March 14, 2018
Most had chants like the ones from Niles West, “We are students. We are victims. We are change.”
North Lawndale College Prep students now walking silently to nearby church where they’ll give a press conference. They’re carrying 3 long yellow signs & being trailed by a police car & school bus pic.twitter.com/q6niXCOuQC— Kalyn Belsha (@kalynbelsha) March 14, 2018
Some students reported that Downer’s Grove North and South High Schools are among schools choosing not to allow students to participate in the walkout or are reprimanding them with Saturday detention. One student from Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences tweeted, “our school did not allow us to walk out, therefore, we created a sit in to remember the 17 lives lost at Parkland.”
Here’s the scene at St. Helen Catholic School in Chicago. Nina Aurelio, a 14 year-old eighth grader said, “In Parkland they lost 17 people but as a country we lost something else: security and protection of a school. It’s supposed to be an innocent place and I think we have to fight for it.”
Ahead of 17 minutes, 8th grader Nina Aurelio said student voices want “to pursue change.” She said she approached her teacher about the walkout after hearing about it on Snapchat. @WBEZ pic.twitter.com/k5JHsj3glV— Paula Friedrich (@pauliebe) March 14, 2018
Not all students went outside. In Des Plaines, second graders drew pictures to show their support.
And there’s more to come.
It’s not over yet. We still have April 20th. Until then, let us make petitions and call your representatives.— Niles West Walkout (@wolvesforchange) March 14, 2018
Correction: This story originally reported a Twitter video’s origin from Chicago when in fact it was footage of a walkout in Detroit.