Medford students opt out of National School Walkout, opt in to discussions

Medford, Ore. — Protests against gun violence were held at an estimated 3,100 schools across the country Wednesday, one month after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

But in Medford, the streets were relatively quiet. But not because the students don’t feel passionate about the issue.

Despite opting to walk out of National Walk Out Day, Medford students have played an active role in the gun control debate. They even organized their own walkout earlier this month to advocate for stricter gun control laws.

Communications specialist Natalie Hurd with the Medford School District said since the Parkland school shooting, the district has discussed ways to try to make themselves more available to students to be able to talk about these issues.

Hurd said she respects the students’ right to protest, but district staff want to encourage students not to take away from their classroom time. They have created lunch time or after school forums and encourage students to attend to share their thoughts.

“I think it’s important for them to share their concerns with school leaders and hear about what it is the district is doing for school safety,” Hurd said.

Encouraging the forums and discouraging walking out of class also allows faculty to better protect both students who want to join the national movement, and those who do not.

“It is our job to educate students and provide a safe learning environment for all students, including students who choose not to walk out,” Hurd said.

North Medford High School senior Bruce Osborne said while he’s glad students are taking a stand against gun violence, he agrees that walk-outs are not the best way to approach the conversation.

“I think there’s something else that should be done. Yeah, you could walk out, but you’re just harming your education and I really think that’s another way to get mentally fit for it,” Osborne said.

Osborne is a gun owner himself, so he doesn’t want to completely take away the right to bear arms. However, he thinks that more restrictions need to be put in place, including raising the age. At 21-years-old, Osborne said he does not think that he would have been responsible enough to own a firearm in his younger years.

“Most teenagers are still in the gaming realm…they’re always wanting to like play guns and drive cars and go crazy,” Osborne said. “They’re thinking, “Oh if I wave my gun around, I’m going to be cool.” That’s not cool. What’s cool is standing up for others who are being harmed.”

The Medford school district is also hosting a “Parent Academy” program for parents on school safety on Thursday from 6 to 7:30 p.m. It will be held in the Medford School District Auditorium at 815 South Oakdale Avenue.

For more information on Parent Academy, you can contact Chief Academic Officer, [email protected] or call 541-842-3626.

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