Central Valley students participating in nationwide walkout to raise gun violence awareness

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Fresno Unified says it supports the right to protest peacefully but adds it is also concerned about the safety of students. (KFSN)

March 14 will mark one month since the deadly school shooting in Parkland Florida and it will be the day many students across the country take a stance against gun violence with a walkout.

"The walkouts are really making the governments listen to us and kind of see that our voices matter too and we're the ones experiencing this," said Patino High School student Keerat Riar.

But some Central Valley schools are taking a different approach. Cooper Academy in Central Fresno is planning to do this formation with its 600 students on the field.

Principal Sandi Auble says they wanted to do something organized so that their middle schoolers are able to express themselves in a safe environment.

"We'll have a heart which represents our support and a 17 in the middle of it, to represent the 17 victims and the hashtag--share their support," said Principal Sandi Auble.

School Counselor Mike Yates says he hopes this teaches them how to protest with purpose.

"As the adults, we actually want to be able to give them the opportunity to not just sit in fear but act and support and be part of the healing process instead of being afraid," said Yates.

In a statement, Fresno Unified says it supports the right to protest peacefully but adds it is also concerned about the safety of students who leave campus.

Miguel Arias says if that happens those students will face disciplinary actions.

"We have plenty of options for you to do something on campus there's no need for you to go outside if you do choose to go outside we will hold you accountable because we want to make sure you remain on campus engage in school and engage in positive alternatives on campus," said Arias.
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