Across the country on Wednesday thousands of students participated in a national walkout in a push for new gun laws.
The walkouts were planned for 17 minutes, a minute representing each life lost in Parkland, Florida a month ago.
However, some Upstate school districts, including Greenville County Schools which is the largest in the state, did not participate.
“We did not participate in the national walk out and instead asked students to come up with alternatives that really kind of serve more of the original purpose,” said Beth Brotherton, a spokesperson for Greenville County Schools District. “They wanted a safer schools remembrance opportunity, and in the midst of it, it became very political.”
Brotherton said most of their schools only had 20 students or less who walked out at 10 A.M., but at J.L. Mann and Mauldin High Schools and Tanglewood Middle School, they saw the largest groups of students walk out.
“Every report that we’ve gotten so far is that students were respectful at the school or schools where they chose to leave the facility,” Brotherton said. “They did go back into the building after 17 minutes.”
At Wade Hampton High School, no students left the school building.
The student council set up 17 desks in the lobby in remembrance of the Florida victims.
“We thought it’d be best to have actual desks to have these students walk past these desks and imagine these souls basically just sitting there,” Wade Hampton High School student Trayvon Wilson said.
The students also organized an intercom memorial where they read out the names of the victims and a little bit about them.
“It was very emotional in the classroom,” student Bladen Bates said. “I could hear people sniffling. If we felt that we needed to, we could write our representatives in the area if we wanted to voice our opinion on it.”
The district says a large part of their decision was safety. While some students still supported the planned walkout even though they couldn’t participate, they were satisfied with the alternative.
“This was a way for all of us to come together, political views aside, just to come together honoring these people,” Wilson said.
Brotherton says any student who walked out of class will be cited for cutting class which is a warning.
Greenville County High School Walkout Numbers
Berea – 0
Blue Ridge – 1
Carolina – 20
Eastside – 27
Greenville – 7
Greer – 5
Hillcrest – 39
J.L. Mann – 206
Mauldin – 179
Southside – 0
Travelers Rest – 30
Wade Hampton – 0
Woodmont – 0
Fine Arts Center – 1