Lynchburg student addresses school board about school safety and nationwide walkout

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)-- In Lynchburg, students say the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has encouraged them to speak up about school safety.

More than 800 miles separate Parkland, Florida and Lynchburg, Virginia, but you didn't have to look hard to see the ties in Tuesday night's school board meeting: stickers for Stoneman Douglas, signs made, and a student speaking up.

Kate Staton and Spencer Cohen sat in the audience, Staton spoke.

“We've been practicing lock down drills since we were in preschool,” said Staton. “We don't know what it is like to not worry about this.”

They both attend EC Glass HS, where there have been two safety threats since September. No one was hurt from either threat, LPD determined the most recent one a hoax, but the students were on lockdown.

“The blinds were open, our book bags were visible. The table wasn't against the door,” said Staton. “This made me angry because I didn't feel like our safety was taken seriously.”

Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Massie said safety is a top priority and they focus on improving it every day.

“I'm not aware of those individual's specific concerns that were expressed tonight. However, we are going to talk to the principal about that and see what the situation is,” said Dr. Massie. “We feel confident that the school in question is a very safe school.”

The students say they want stricter policies in these high stress situations.

“I’m asking for people to be more aware,” said Cohen. “I'm asking for better communication between students and administrators.”

They have already been working with administrators to have their voices heard on a different level.

E.C. Glass has organized participation in a nationwide walkout on March 14th for students to stand in solidarity with those killed in Parkland. Dr. Massie said Tuesday night that the students will not be punished for participating in the walk out. They want students to be able to express themselves.

Massie said rules still apply, but they are not going to put limitations on participation. The school system is working with Lynchburg Police to make sure the walk out is safe.

Students can choose not to participate, but for Cohen and Staton, they are hoping this walk out will be the start of change.

“When I walk out it will be to say enough. I'm tired of living in fear that the school is not safe,” said Staton.