PERRYSBURG, Ohio — Perrysburg High School students walked out of class Wednesday to protest gun violence in schools.
This is at least the third local school to walk out and call for change in the past month. The students told WTOL 11 they are tired of seeing kids around their age across the country get shot and killed in the classroom.
To highlight this, they teamed up with the local chapter of the gun control advocacy group Students Demand Action and planned the walkout as a way to call for change in every area possible.
The idea ended up grabbing the attention of about 30 students and teachers, who gathered at the track stadium to listen to a brief speech from Perrysburg High School senior James Xiao.
Xiao pointed out that there have been more shootings than days in a year, and called attention to shootings that took the lives of students and teachers in Nashville, Lansing, Uvalde, Oxford and Parkland.
Xiao said that if they don’t soon see change, he and his classmates are just as likely to have their names on gravestones as they are on diplomas. The event ended with a moment of silence for those whose lives have already been taken.
Xiao said he doesn’t want all the guns taken away, but he believes something must be done to stop the violence.
“Right after shootings, it’s just a terrifying feeling when my classmates and everyone else, tensions are high and we’re all a little scared and fazed because it’s students like me who are dying,” he said. “There’s always a balance between the government and civil liberties and buying guns and what’s a right in the Constitution.”
He said limits on purchasing guns and more background checks would help.
Perrysburg High School Principal Aaron Cookson walked with the students today, saying that the walkout is an appropriate way to bring attention to a serious issue and expressing that he also often fears for the lives of the people in his building.
While Xiao and the other students who organized the event will be graduating this year, Xiao said he will continue his advocacy into college because he already knows that violence happens at every level of learning.
“The recent shooting at Michigan State (proves) school shootings are occurring at college too,” Xiao said. “I have friends at Michigan State, so it’s really terrifying to wake up and see something at Michigan State where you can think, your friends might be on a gravestone instead of seeing them graduate like I would want them to.”
Xiao said he’ll be going to Ohio State next year, and plans to continue his kind of advocacy on that campus.
He said his little brother will help stage another walkout at Perrysburg in his place next year.