Medford high school students ‘walkout’ for stricter gun laws

Medford, Ore. — Following in the footsteps of thousands of teens from across the nation, several dozen students at both North and South Medford High School walked out of class Friday to protest gun laws.

The students were clear – they want change, and this is how they’re going to make sure local legislators hear their voice and push for stricter gun laws. They marched from their schools to the offices of Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and US Representative Greg Walden.

“I don’t believe that it’s right or it’s fair for children to have to protest for their right to live,” student Elaina Foley said.

A bold statement from just one of nearly 50 Medford high school students who walked out of school Friday morning in part of the March For Our Lives campaign.

“We have students here to protest, show their support, and the absolute change that is needed in not just Oregon, but across the nation,” student Emma Empol said.

Every chant, every honk in support – all to make sure legislators hear their voices loud and clear.

“We have students talking about assault rifles and overall, ban guns and how our teachers don’t need to be armed, but here to teach us in general,” Empol said.

They want stricter gun laws, so what happened in Parkland, doesn’t happen in Medford.

“It should be a learning environment, it should be a positive place and instead it’s a place where we’re afraid for our lives,” Foley said.

“It’s made us even more inspired to go out here and show that this is enough,” Empol said.

Enough for these students to turn away from their classroom for the day.

“This is a message they feel strongly about. This is not something they’re doing everyday, obviously. On certain days, they’re going to come and hold people accountable,” said Kevin Stine, Medford City Councilor.

“We know that this is an extremely sensitive and even a traumatic time in our country because of the school shootings¬† And they absolutely deserve to have their voices heard,” said Natalie Hurd, Medford School District.

While the group ranged from age 14 to 18, they said not to underestimate them. They know more than you think.

“We know what we’re talking about. It’s not just me out here – but all of these well-informed students. It’s our job to be educated. It’s our job to be informed and know the future,” Empol said.

Medford School District plans to hold an open forum after school hours later this month to hear from students, parents and teachers about school safety. Students who chose to walk out Friday will be marked with an unexcused absence.

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