Pullman high students walk out

Students make a stand for safety, solidarity, despite threats of detention



Students exit Pullman High School on Tuesday. Following last Wednesday’s walkouts protesting gun violence, a student said he was threatened with detention for participating.

ZARA CRUDEN, Evergreen reporter

Pullman High School students who walked out of class last Wednesday to protest gun violence were threatened with detention and received unexcused absences, according to a student.

Students across the nation walked out on March 14 in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, to demand changes that would reduce gun violence. Pullman High students left the building at 10 a.m., stood outside for 17 minutes and then returned to class.

The school released a statement saying it would not support the walkout, and students who participated would be marked tardy or given an unexcused absence.

Andrew Kuffler, a student at the school, said they did receive unexcused absences. He said the school also threatened detention, but did not follow through.

Shannon Focht, Pullman Public Schools communications coordinator, said they chose to keep the focus on teaching and learning, while “providing guidance and planning to support student and staff safety.”

Schools in Pullman provided alternate age-appropriate activities for children and adolescents, Focht said. There was a safety assembly, a “day of kindness,” and the older students wrote letters to their Legislature.

The safety assembly took place at Jefferson Elementary, and it replaced the walkout that one of the students, 10-year-old Alden Duff, had hoped to hold.

Kuffler felt this was not enough, and decided to walk out. Focht estimated he was one of about 100 students who demonstrated in a school of just over 700.

Kuffler said every day, not just one, should be about kindness.

“I went out and silently protested with my fellow students, and it definitely felt like a huge moment in my life where I could just … fight for something I believe in,” he said. “It definitely grabbed a lot of people’s attention.”

Pullman students, like thousands of others across the country, organized the protest on the internet.

“All of it was social media-based,” Kuffler said. “Staff didn’t want to talk about it at school, especially the superintendent and the School Board.”

To Kuffler, the walkout wasn’t about gun control — it was about standing up for safety in school and in solidarity with Parkland.

“We’re not just young millennial and Gen Z kids that don’t know what we’re talking about, because we do,” Kuffler said. “That’s what this movement has led us to, that we have a say and we can stand.”