Local student walkouts calling on tougher gun laws scheduled for March 14 — one month after the Parkland, Florida, school shooting — were postponed because a storm prompted another snow day.

As students in some other Maine districts were forging ahead with protests in the snow, other districts were planning walkouts for Thursday or Friday. 

At Lewiston High School, the #Enough: National Student Walkout will happen on Wednesday, March 21, Principal Jake Langlais said.

The challenge for holding the walkout on Thursday, March 15, is that a large group of students is going to Boston on a field trip, he said.

In Auburn, Edward Little High School student organizer Leah Burtchell, who spoke with the Sun Journal last week, said Wednesday that she and other organizers are attempting to reschedule the walkout for Wednesday, March 21. 

She said she was a little disappointed with the timing of the weather. But “there’s really nothing you can do,” she said. “We’re just going to do it in a week.”

Principal Scott Annear said he spoke with Burtchell on Wednesday morning, and the pair set up a meeting to make sure the same plans would be put in place.

“I want to be sure we have all the pieces in place to be sure that students are safe,” Annear said, referring to coordinating with local police, who had also planned to attend the protest. 

School administrators had recently said that students participating in the walkout would be considered cutting class and would receive detention

Because of the focus on gun control, the walkouts have become a partisan issue, and student activists have been at the center of the national debate.

Burtchell said that ever since she and other Edward Little students were featured in local news coverage, the students have received a lot of criticism, especially in online comments. 

“I’ve personally been getting a lot of heat from older men who don’t really agree, but there’s nothing you can really do to change their opinions, and they’re entitled to their opinions,” she said. 

Local students said they wanted to join forces with Parkland students, including Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, who have been calling on lawmakers to pass stricter gun laws to ban assault weapons and increase the minimum age to possess a gun, and to remember the lives of those who were murdered in the school shooting.

The walkout, which was happening in schools across the country, was sponsored by Women’s March.

Burtchell said she’s been following the conversation, including the controversial comments made Monday by a GOP Maine House candidate

On Monday, Leslie Gibson, the only declared candidate for the District 57 in Sabattus, referred to Gonzalez as a “skinhead lesbian.” 

“That made me so mad,” Burtchell said. “Someone like that should not be running for office.” 

Burtchell said she and other students were following the protests of other students Wednesday, including Portland, where students rallied in Monument Square after school was canceled. 

“It would be cool if we could do that here, but there’s really no downtown for us,”
 she said. 

Outside Lewiston-Auburn, students in Yarmouth and York — where school was not canceled — held rallies on school grounds. Students in Freeport gathered despite school being closed and college students at St. Joseph’s College in Standish and Colby College in Waterville also staged protests. 

Students at Yarmouth High School participate Wednesday in a walkout to protest gun violence. Yarmouth is one of the few schools in Maine that did not cancel school Wednesday as the state dug out from the third major winter storm in two weeks. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

Leah Burtchell (Sun Journal file photo)


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