Student walkout turns into all-school event at Paul Blazer High School

Published: Mar. 14, 2018 at 5:41 PM EDT
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A nationwide student protest took a different tone at Paul G. Blazer High School. Principal Derek Runyon made the announcement at 10 a.m. Wednesday to pull everyone out of class and into the halls for 17 minutes, one minute for each victim killed in the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

Students and staff observed a moment of silence, then were encouraged by Runyon to continue the dialogue.

"Today was a national day of voice for students, so punishment was never in our mindset," he said.

Several students and even a teacher shared they had been bullied in the past.

Math teacher Chris Whitlock used his booming voice to share a heartfelt message.

"You're wanted on this earth. We love you all. That's why we're here," he said.

Students told us they were scared and heartbroken about the events in Parkland. One even asked to be home-schooled until her mother persuaded her otherwise.

Which is why for Runyon, Wednesday was different.

He said it's impossible to know every student's story and what they're going home to, so the community here is important.

He wants teens and adults to listen more, smile more and encourage one another.

"I think every minute counts," said senior Lydia O’Nan. "We can have a hopeful future if we all work together for it."

"I think every student every day can make a difference," Runyon added. “Seventeen minutes is a great starting point.”

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