A group of students from the Vilonia Freshman Academy are planning to take part in a walkout at 10 a.m. April 20.
An email was sent to the Log Cabin Democrat by the protest organizers March 25 regarding the future event.
“Vilonia Schools are very proud to say that they embrace student voice," the email reads. "And with that, they are willing to allow students to protest for what they believe.
“April 20th, along with the rest of the nation, Vilonia Freshman Academy is walking out at 10 AM. We will protest in the Football Stadium and we would love for you to come and see us students protest. This is not politically motivated, but a movement to urge officials to acknowledge the problem of (gun) violence in schools and to work on a solution.”
The LCD reached out to the group for comments and received a reply March 30 stating the group was limiting its communications to its email and social media platforms including Instagram @viloniawalkout.
After looking through Instagram posts, it was evident the group will protest on April 20 to call attention to the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting.
According to the post, the students plan on walking out at 10 a.m.
“Here we are, in 2018, where last valentines 17 more lives were taken,” the group’s post reads. “This is not acceptable. We need to do something – even if we are just a small town, we need to stand up and make sure that a) the government knows students all over want change and b) our school makes our campus safer.”
The LCD reached out to Superintendent David Stephens for comment.
Stephens said this was the first he was hearing about the walkout scheduled for April 20.
Stephens said Vilonia schools do support a student’s right to protest, "but, their right to protest doesn’t make them exempt from school policy,” he said.
Stephens said any students who chose to walkout of school without permission during school hours will still be subject to consequences for going against school policy.
According to the National School Walkout site — www.act.indivisible.org/event/national-school-walkout/ — the event is a nationwide protest of “our leaders’ failure to pass laws that protect us from gun violence.”
“Mass shootings happen far too frequently in America, and we as a nation have become numb to seeing the news,” the site states. “After each one, the same cycle takes place: the media spend less than a week on the story, politicians offer their ‘thoughts and prayers,’ and nothing ever changes.”
The walkout on April 20, the site states, is a way for young Americans to take matters into their own hands.
“Together, we will send a message that we won’t tolerate any more inaction on this issue,” the site reads. “And if cowardly politicians fail to act, young people will show them the consequences of letting so many Americans die by voting them out in November.”
The site also lets users search for walkouts in their areas.
After typing in Conway’s zip code, 72032, the site revealed both Conway Junior High School and Conway High School have walkouts planned.
The LCD reached out to Conway Public Schools for comment.
"Much like the March 15th movement, we support our students' desire to stand up for their beliefs, but our first priority must be the safety of all our students and staff," communication specialist Heather Kendrick said. Students who are not in class when they are supposed to be in class will face the regular consequences associated with that truancy."