Schools across the Midlands participated in National Walkout Day, others found different ways to support the cause

(WIS) - National, student-led demonstrations planned in response to the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida are being discussed on websites and social media. One of the demonstrations is being promoted as "National School Walkout Day" on Wednesday.

The protests lasted roughtly 17 minutes - one minute for each victim in the Florida high school shooting. Students are honoring victims while also promoting the idea of stricter gun laws.

Students at schools in the Midlands planned to participate in the national demonstrations and school administrations, in some cases, got involved. Some local schools planned on punishing students for participating in the protest, while others do not.

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Shelly Galloway with Sumter County Schools said that students could face disciplinary action if they don't follow guidelines set by the administration.

"The students will have to follow the parameters that are established by the student government and approved by [the] administration," Galloway said. "If students do not follow the parameters, they could face disciplinary action in accordance with the Sumter County School Code of Conduct."

Some offenses listed in the code of conduct include leaving class/ cutting school, loitering, refusal to obey, disrupting class/major disruption and excessive noise.

Lexington-Richland School District 5 officials also say that no disciplinary action will be taken if students adhere to policies in the Student Behavior Code Handbook.

School officials in districts such as Richland County 1, Richland County 2, Lexington 1 and Lexington 2 say that they will not take disciplinary action for students participating in the "walk out" and will provide supervision to ensure safety.

"As a district, we are not encouraging or discouraging student participation. We are merely recognizing our students' first amendment rights. After all, we have worked to instill in our students the knowledge that it is their responsibility to become involved citizens and to champion causes in which they believe," Lexington 1 Superintendent Greg Little said.

"If a student decides to participate in a 17-minute-long peaceful, silent observance, the district will not take any disciplinary action against him/her as long as the student immediately returns to class after that time and adheres to all other district policies and procedures."

Lexington 2 spokesperson Dawn Kujawa said that administrators are working with students to identify a designated spot at each school to gather. The activity is only open to students.

"District and school leadership support students' efforts to participate in safe and peaceful observances March 14 to remember the Florida victims and to promote school safety. While these events will be for student participants only -- no parents, community members or media -- we will have administrators, teachers and support staff on hand, as well as added security when appropriate, to ensure a safe environment for everyone," Kujawa said.

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