MIDDLEBURY -- “I’m here to support everyone who can’t be here to say these things and the victims,” said Pomperaug High School student Haley Bates.
Bates was among about 70 students at Pomperaug High School in Southbury who joined thousands of students across the nation in the National School Walkout Wednesday.
Bates and some other students also held another after-school rally at Meadowview Park in Middlebury.
“Because even if you do one walkout you still have to work hard to make sure its heard,” said Cailyn Soltanas, who also attends Pomperaug High School.
She had parental support at Wednesday afternoon’s event.
“I’m here to support her beliefs,” said Soltanas’ father, John. “It’s important as a parent to do something like that.”
The students said they walked out of school amid threats of suspension from their principal.
“And we all said we’re going to take that suspension because if that suspension is for our lives than I might as well take it,” said Pomperaug High School student, Ayah Alhabbal.
“…which is so important, and I’m very proud of them,” Bates said.
Bates’ mother was also very proud of her.
“And I said I’ll join you, you know and do whatever we can to at least bring attention to the real issues,” said Laurie Bates.
“To prioritize kids over guns because they have lives and guns don’t,” said Megan Scribner also of Pomperaug High School.
“And After Sandy Hook, after Las Vegas, we hype up a school shooting and pretend that it never happened,” Alhabbal said.
But Bristol Central High students Brianna Olandt and Lindsey Verbitsky said school staff blocked students there from leaving the school and threatened to punish them if they did.
“They threatened us with like walking in graduation, suspension or prom,” Verbitsky said.
“We needed that platform to speak our voices and raise awareness of the problem, Olandt said. “Because it’s a huge problem that people are seeing all of these innocent kids dying.”
That’s something Brianna’s stepmother thinks she can help change.
“She wants to be educated. And She wants to be a part of something bigger than herself,” Lindsay Vigue said.
“And I can see this as becoming the future for our generation,” Bates said.