A group of Marietta residents say they will be at the city’s high school Wednesday morning carrying signs in solidarity with the teenage students who plan on walking out of class at 10 a.m.
Walkouts are planned at schools across the country to commemorate the one month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida shooting and call for stricter regulations on firearms.
District officials say parents and family members are welcome to show their support, but visitors are not permitted onto the practice fields where students will be. Instead, supporters must remain on the sidewalk along Whitlock Avenue, just off campus.
Students in the neighboring Cobb School District are not permitted to leave class and those who do are subject to the student code of conduct, the district said.
Among those who plan on attending Marietta’s walkout is 83-year-old Joyce Dunaway Parker, the sister of former Marietta Mayor Bill Dunaway. Parker, who has two grandsons participating in the student walkout, will fly in from her second home in Colorado to support the Marietta High students.
“What we’re doing isn’t working, and personally, I feel my grandsons are more valuable than guns,” said Parker, a member of the Marietta High School Class of 1953.
Marietta attorney Matt Flournoy made signs with his wife Joanne that read “Proud of MHS Students. #NeverAgain.”
The #NeverAgain movement was started by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in response to 17 of their classmates and teachers getting gunned down in the halls of their school on Valentine’s Day by a former student wielding an AR-15 style semiautomatic rifle.
“I think this movement is wonderful,” he said. “It’s being led by high school students who have a vested interest in their own safety.”
Flournoy said school shootings are both unnecessary and preventable and believes there should be stricter regulations in place for those who wish to purchase firearms.
“For a person to drive a motor vehicle, they must be trained, they must be tested and must be licensed,” Flournoy said. “A weapon can be a weapon of mass destruction so I believe anyone who has a gun should be trained, tested and licensed.”
When he was issued an M-16 while serving in the U.S. Navy, Flournoy said the government didn’t just hand him his rifle. They made him undergo a series of courses and training exercises first.
He said he was proud of the district for allowing the students to express themselves and commemorate the victims of last month’s shooting without punishment.