Local News

Freeman HS walkout is sign of solidarity, part of healing process

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. - Wednesday marks one month since 17 people, most of them students, were killed during a shooting at a Parkland, Florida high school. 

Around the country, and the Inland Northwest, students at elementary schools, middle schools and high schools staged walkouts to show their support for the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, and to express their concern about safety in schools. 

Some students made posters and others crafted chants or songs to make their point.

At Freeman High School, students opted instead for silence and stillness, expressing the kind of solidarity that only a school that has experienced gun violence can. 

This week is a somber anniversary for the Freeman Scotties, as well. Tuesday marked six months since a student opened fire in the hall, killing 15-year-old Sam Strahan and wounding three other students. 

“We've had rough spots. We're still working through things every single day but it's pulled us together. We're tighter,” said school principal Jim Straw. 

Straw said Freeman wasn't originally planning to participate in Wednesday's walkout. Students, like others, were working to organize an event on April 20, marking 19 years since the Columbine High School shooting. 

“We're able to work with the kids and, as long as they keep communicating with us, we want to support them,” Straw said. 

But, within the last few days, plans changed. 

“Some of our students just wanted to do a remembrance of the victims in Parkland and also their classmate Sam Strahan,” Straw said. 

About 30 students walked outside, into the rain, at 10:00 a.m. Straw said the walkout coincided with the school’s breakfast period. Students who walked out only missed about eight minutes of class time. 

Others stayed inside, but watched from windows, as their classmates took part in a national moment that, for all of them, hits painfully close to home. 

“I'm really proud of our kids. We've lived it. I mean, everybody's talking about it, we're one of the few schools in the country-- too many schools-- but we're one of the few that actually have lived it and these kids have been fantastic, the community's been fantastic,” Straw said. 

For 17 minutes this morning, students across the country were silent in honor of the lives taken in Florida last month. At Freeman- they took 18 minutes: 17 for Parkland, and one, one for Sam. 

“You got a chance to see how mature some of our kids were today. I think they're going to continue to show that. We're just going - we're going to come out of this stronger,” Straw said.