Seventeen-minute protests unfolded on Wednesday at hundreds of schools across the country, each in their own way, including Vernon Parish schools.
For some, these acts were intended to pressure Congress to approve gun control legislation after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. For others, there were memorials and moments of silence.
Pickering High School (PHS) observed 17 minutes of silence in memoriam. Students filled the Murphy O'Banion Stadium and for 17 minutes not a word was spoken.
PHS Assistant Principal Eddie Thomas said they were observing one minute of silence for each of the 17 students and faculty members who were killed at Parkland High School on February 14.
The solemn faces of students reflected the purpose of the walkout as they made their way into the stadium in small groups. The procession started precisely at 10 a.m., with the last of the students arriving at 10:07.
Once seated, each student sat in the warm morning sun, eyes front and center with sincere expressions almost as if it had been rehearsed.
"There are at least 80 kids up there," Principal Dana Donaldson said as she looked up at the faces sitting in silent tribute.
The students returned to their classes at 10:17 a.m. in the same quiet, respectful manner in which they had entered the stadium.
Leesville High School (LHS) Assistant Principal Mark Mawae said just three students at 10 a.m. headed out to the courtyard for the event. The school had a plan in place to “let them have their 17 minutes.”
“With testing and so many other things going on right now, I guess our kids just have other priorities,” Mawae said.
A LHS student posted to the Leesville Daily Leader Facebook page saying most of the students were unaware of the event. “We did not know there was a placed time,” she stated. “I know (the) majority of the kids including myself would have loved to stand out there on behalf of the children and adults killed in the shooting.” She pointed out as Mawae had, that testing was going on at the time.
Anacoco, Hicks, Pitkin, Rosepine and Simpson High Schools all reported there were no student protests or memorials of any kind.