Students may stage walkout to vote
Local teens may join nationwide movement to draw attention to gun violence
Some students may walk out of schools across the nation today to draw attention to gun violence and to encourage young people to vote.
A map of school districts on Walkouttovote.org lists walkouts allegedly planned at Hollidaysburg Area, Altoona Area and State College Area. However, there are no details about who supposedly organized walkouts at those districts.
A couple of Hollidaysburg Area students last week told their high school principal they were going to walk out and go vote, Superintendent Bob Gildea said.
“We informed them that, if you walk out, you are going to be punished,” Gildea said.
He compromised with them, suggesting they bring a note from parents to excuse them from class, he said.
All 18-year-olds in the senior high school are registered to vote, he added, and school administrators thought about ways to help them get to the polls, but they all vote in different precincts, Gildea said.
“We are encouraging students to vote, absolutely. But we are encouraging them to do it within policies and procedures of the school district,” he said. “This election has really incited interest of young eligible voters.”
The walkouts are being coordinated by The Future Coalition, a national alliance of 25 youth-led organizations, including March For Our Lives, National School Walkout and Zero Hour.
According to Newsweek, the walkout plans follow months of activism and voter registration efforts aimed at teens and young adults, who typically have anemic turnout, especially in midterm elections.
“On Nov. 6, the voice of young people in this country will be heard loud and clear when we cast our ballots together,” David Hogg said in a press release about the walkouts. Hogg helped to found March for Our Lives, an anti-gun violence organization, after he survived the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.
Altoona Area School District Community Relations Director Paula Foreman said principals have heard no word from students about a walkout.
Foreman said there is available time for students to vote before and after school. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
State College Area School District Communications Director Chris Rosenblum also said he was not aware of any walkout planned.
“I’m not aware of any walkout. If it was planned, it was planned organically,” he said.
Issues that concern students like student loans, gun violence and immigration may bring more young voters to the polls, but Rosenblum said the district sees no reason to disrupt class.
“The school district absolutely supports young people voting. We are encouraging students to vote before and after school. We are not authorizing or supporting a walkout during class.”
Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.