Students walk out of Sehome High School to protest gun violence

At least 100 students and staff walked out of Sehome High School Wednesday morning, Nov. 23, to protest against school threats and gun violence.

This comes after the school went into lockdown on Tuesday after a false call of an active shooter.

Sehome High School students Abby Brandon, Elliot Peterson and Chelsea Crook organized the walkout and addressed the crowd with a pre-written statement.

“We are here to talk about mental health awareness and advocacy, especially surrounding the recent gun threats in our school and our world,” Brandon said to the crowd. “School should be safe. You should feel safe in school.”

The students asked for better access to mental health support, stronger communication from school leaders during lockdown events and a 20-minute break period after lockdown events to give students time to refocus.

“After this lockdown that happened yesterday, I had to go take a test for a class and I was not in the headspace to do that. I was just worrying if I was going to die,” Peterson told The Bellingham Herald after the walkout.

“Although we hope something like this doesn’t happen again, if there are more threats we want to be informed about what is actually happening when it’s happening,” Brandon said.

About 100 students participate in a walkout at Sehome High School protesting threats and gun violence Wednesday, Nov. 23, in Bellingham.
About 100 students participate in a walkout at Sehome High School protesting threats and gun violence Wednesday, Nov. 23, in Bellingham.

In anticipation of the planned walkout, Sehome High School Principal Sonia Cole sent out an email to students, staff and families.

It said, in part, “The Sehome community has been affected both last December and today by threats of violence that disrupted the Sehome school community and continue to affect students, staff and families today. We support students’ freedom of expression and we share their concerns about youth mental health and the need for all students to feel safe at school and in the community. We support students’ rights to exercise their right to assemble and are proud of them when they advocate for what is important to them.”

The counseling office and Career Center were both available all day Wednesday for accessing resources and support in response to the threats made Tuesday, Cole said.

Sehome High School was among the Whatcom, Skagit, Pierce, Thurston, Clark and Snohomish counties schools that were targets of the false active shooter threats on Tuesday.

During the 2021-22 school year, Sehome High School went into lockdown twice and temporarily closed in the span of one week due to bombing and injury threats made to the school.