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Local students participate in national school walkout

UPDATED Weds., March 14, with comment from Rep. Jack Bergman.

Several northern Michigan high schools plan to take part in Wednesday morning’s national walkout. Organizers say the walkout is meant to honor the victims of last month’s school shooting in Parkland, Florida – and to call for stricter gun laws.

Senior Jade Ebel organized the walkout at Reed City High School. Ebel says she was motivated to organize a walkout after a recent campus shooting at Central Michigan University.

“While I don’t necessarily think that there is anyone that I know of in my community that would do something like that, I don’t know that enough has been done to stop it from happening,” says Ebel.

Ebel says she supports a ban on semi-automatic weapons and “bump-stocks” that can make weapons fire as if they were fully automatic.

But at Boyne City High School, organizer Aurora Seelye says the walkout will not be about guns; it will be about respect and dignity for students.

“Because a lot of the students that do shoot schools have been bullied and neglected in their schools,” says Seelye. “So we want to all come back in to have a commitment to have a positive attitude and spread kindness.”

Seelye and Ebel say students and administration officials at their schools have been supportive of the walkout.

Walkouts are also planned at high schools in Ludington, Traverse City, Leland and Elk Rapids.

When asked about his thoughts on the walkout, Rep. Jack Bergman's office sent an emailed statement:

“As a grandfather to eight school-aged grandchildren, Rep. Bergman takes the issue of school safety very seriously. Our nation’s schools must be a safe place where students can focus freely on their education, and he applauds all who are willing to work together towards that goal. It’s our duty to find solutions to better secure our schools, and Rep. Bergman recently held a meeting to discuss the matter with a group of students from Traverse City Central High School. He intends to continue gathering ideas from students, educators, parents, and others involved to find a path forward.”