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‘This could be us:’ MPS superintendent stands up for students who took part in walkouts

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Milwaukee School of Languages

MILWAUKEE -- Students across the country walked out of school Wednesday, March 14, exactly one month after 17 people were killed at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Darienne Driver defended the students who protested gun violence at schools in her district.

Outside the Milwaukee School of Languages on Wednesday, most of the student body lined up along Burleigh St., chanting "never again" -- a reference to the school shooting in Parkland that took 17 lives.

"It's so terrifying to realize this could be anyone. This could be us. This could be our friends who go to other schools," said Hayley Servant, a senior at Milwaukee School of Languages.

The students demanded more funding for mental health treatment -- but primarily stronger gun laws.

"We just want it to be harder to obtain a gun," said Servant.

Milwaukee School of Languages

"This idea that bad guys will get guns anyway, that's not an excuse. That shouldn't be an argument," said Cameron Polley, a junior at Milwaukee Public School of Languages.

At Rufus King High School, students marched in silence around the track. When they did speak, they said the inaction of lawmakers is largely to blame for school shootings continuing to occur.

Rufus King High School

"Given shootings like Columbine that happened and every shooting after that, I think the lack of action on the part of our policymakers and our legislators is abysmal," said Morgan Coleman, a member of student government at Rufus King High School.

MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver defended the students who walked out.

"Life is not a partisan issue and our students have the right to be educated in a safe environment," said Driver.

MPS Superintendent Darienne Driver

Students said their protest was intended to address all gun violence.

Rufus King High School

"It's also a problem in our community. So many people are dying in our streets. So many people are dying in our schools and we need to do something about it," said Joya Headley, a junior at Milwaukee School of Languages.

Milwaukee School of Languages

Driver said she is against proposals to train and arm teachers.

"That is void of reason and rational thought," Driver said of the idea, "I think, honestly, it’s an excuse to not deal with the real challenges we’re having."

The student organizers at Rufus King said they plan on writing to politicians, noting they will soon be old enough to vote.

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