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Moorhead students to join national walkout in response to Florida school shooting

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Moorhead High School students Luke Seidel (left) and Baylee McKay Engquist are helping to organize a local version of a national student walkout planned for March 14, 2018. Emily Driscoll / The Forum2 / 2

MOORHEAD — Some students here are planning to take part in a nationwide school walkout next month to raise awareness about student safety and encourage political action in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

A group of Moorhead High School students met Friday, Feb. 23, to start organizing their local version of the walkout set for 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14.

Organizers of the national Women's March are calling on students and teachers across the country to walk out of schools that day for 17 minutes, one for each victim of the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Moorhead student Baylee McKay Engquist, 18, said she doesn't want another tragedy to blow over. "People haven't stopped caring, but they tend to forget too quickly," she said.

After learning about the national student walkout and hearing that no one else was planning to organize one in Moorhead, the students started planning it themselves. They formed an organization called the Independent Committee for Student Activism.

The group's president, 18-year-old Luke Seidel, emphasized that the walkout is a nonpartisan protest. "Because this school is so split politically, we want to keep it straight and narrow, and keep it about school safety," he said.

The students have created a motto for the event, "Taking action, having a voice and promoting school safety."

Along with walking out of class on March 14, students plan to host a memorial in the gym remembering the victims of the Florida high school shooting and march to Moorhead City Hall.

"Since we're all coming together in a nonpartisan way, this could really help to make a difference and have a positive impact on school safety," McKay Engquist said.

The memorial will last less than 20 minutes, then juniors and seniors are encouraged to walk to City Hall to meet with the mayor and other local leaders.

Some other local school districts have taken a stance on student protests.

West Fargo Public Schools is not actively encouraging it, but will support student participation in the national walkout. West Fargo Superintendent David Flowers sent an email to students' parents encouraging conversations about mental health issues and preventing future tragedies.

Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Schatz sent a similar email. He said student protests will be allowed but not encouraged, and that building administrators will work with staff and student leaders to plan for a safe environment if protests do occur.

There are three major national protests planned in response to the Florida school shooting, including the March 14 student walkout.

March For Our Lives is slated for March 24 in Washington, D.C., and the National High School Walkout is scheduled for April 20 on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.