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Northeast Ohio Students Call for Action to End Deadly School Violence

Spirit rock painted to remember the fallen in Florida
Lordstown High School with spirit rock painted to remember the fallen, and the bus ready to leave for Columbus

The students in one Northeast Ohio school district went their own way during the National School Walkout.  In Lordstown they had “A Day of Advocacy.”

Superintendent Terry Armstrong
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Lordstown Superintendent Terry Armstrong

When a delegation of Lordstown students asked Superintendent Terry Armstrong if they could plan for themselves what to do during the walkout, he said yes.

What they did was not walk out -- except for a brief and symbolic walk down the front sidewalk. Instead they had a day starting with a safety roundtable and a question-and-answer session with first responders, security experts and mental health professionals.

Lordstown students active in Day of Advocacy
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Rose Mazurkiewicz and Vincent Spano

Eighth- grader Rose Mazurkiewicz  says she believes the mental health discussion was especially important because she says a troubled mental state has often played a role in school violence, and often gone unnoticed and untreated until it was too late.

“You can always get around everything you do to try to make your school safe when it comes to that kind of machinery. But if you’re making sure the kids have a stable mind, and you’re shaping their minds in the right way, then you won’t have these problems.”

Freshman Vincent Spano says there is a mental-health component for violence victims and potential victims, too.

“There's always the thought of being harmed at school. And it’s not just here; it’s everywhere in the country. Just coming to school, it shouldn't be a thought of coming to harm. School should be a place of learning and being with your friends and all that stuff -- not having the fear of getting hurt or experiencing an event like in Florida.”

Lorestown sign
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Illuminated sign at the main entrance to Lordstown High School

Hannah Boyle, Lordstown High Schoo
Credit Tim Rudell / WKSU
Lordstown student Hannah Boyle

The students also talked about an emerging power of their generation to demand change. Sophomore Hannah Boyle says technology is advancing that.

“I think it already has helped. Not only are the people in Florida speaking out to their community and saying ‘something has to change here so this doesn’t happen to this school again, they’re also speaking to other schools in other states that something has to change there. Something has to change everywhere, so that no one ever has to die in the masses like that in a place of learning again.”

After the roundtable, a delegation of students took a district school bus to Columbus to deliver letters from Lordstown to lawmakers and state officials.

Correction:  This article has been updated to correct the spelling on Hannah Boyle's first name.