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Wyoming Students Walk Out In Protest And Remembrance

Tennessee Watson

Students across Wyoming participated Wednesday in the #NationalSchoolWalkout movement. At Central High in Cheyenne, over 200 students gathered at 10 a.m., occupying the school’s commons for 17 minutes;  one minute for each student who died in a school shooting in Parkland, Florida last month.


Central High student organizers taped up 17 large pieces of paper on the walls, each with a different pledge to create a positive and safe school, inviting their peers to sign on.


Junior Ciara Thomas—one of four students to walk out of her chemistry class—signed the pledge to make a difference in her school community. But she said she wants to make change on the national level, too.


Her big issue is something called the Dickey Amendment, which she said, “prevents the Center for Disease Control from conducting research about gun violence in the U.S. because it could lead to gun control legislation.” Thomas questioned: “So if we can’t even research the problem itself, how can we find a solution?”


The Dickey Amendment, which passed in 1996, didn’t explicitly limit research, but it reduced the CDC’s budget and forbade the agency from advocating on gun policy.


Thomas attended the walkout with her friend Daniel Wright, who is a senior. Wright said more needs to be done to secure the school; from security scanners to better locks on the doors.


“Currently we only have locks on the outside of classroom doors. So you’d have to walk out of the classroom, turn a key and walk back in to lock a room,” Wright described. “That takes 10 to 15 seconds, which is a long time that something could happen.”


In Cody, about 50 students gathered outside the high school. The Park County 6 school board is currently considering whether to allow staff to conceal carry. Senior Lucille Sax said she participated because she is worried about future generations of students if things don’t improve, and because she’s concerned a conceal carry policy could make schools even more dangerous.


“I don’t think any of the risk factors are taking any hold with anyone who wants to put the guns in hands of teachers. And I don’t think it’s the right idea at all.”  


Sax said this walkout was about showing respect for those who have died in shootings. There’s a national march scheduled for March 24, and Sax said she hopes that event will be more focused on demanding change.


Walkouts happened at schools throughout Wyoming, but threats in Casper prevented students from participating in the walkout there.

Tennessee -- despite what the name might make you think -- was born and raised in the Northeast. She most recently called Vermont home. For the last 15 years she's been making radio -- as a youth radio educator, documentary producer, and now reporter. Her work has aired on Reveal, The Heart, LatinoUSA, Across Women's Lives from PRI, and American RadioWorks. One of her ongoing creative projects is co-producing Wage/Working (a jukebox-based oral history project about workers and income inequality). When she's not reporting, Tennessee likes to go on exploratory running adventures with her mutt Murray.
In addition to reporting daily on the happenings in Northwest Wyoming, Kamila is also the producer of the Kids Ask WhY Podcast and the History Unloaded Podcast.Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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