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Springfield School Rattled By Past Violence Sees Little Turnout For Walk-Out Event

Brian Bull

Student walk-outs were held today at South Eugene High, Sheldon High, and the University of Oregon to protest gun violence and other issues. It was all part of a nationwide "Walk-Out" event.  But Springfield saw a modest turnout at a high school marred by a shooting incident two decades ago. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

It’s unknown if any students at Thurston High walked out at the appointed time of 10-am. Media were kept off school grounds, and a staff person at the school's main office says she was unaware of any observances.

At the Thurston Fence were two retired teachers, Nancy Callahan and Michael Landes.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Retired educators Michael Landes (left) and Nancy Callahan (right), at a marker memorializing Ben Walker and Mikael Nickolauson, who died after a school shooting in May 1998.

“Surprises me and saddens me," says Callahan, holding an orange sign that says STAND WITH STUDENTS.

"I know that they’re under a lot of pressure and rules, and I wish they could keep up the energy that this whole March for Our Lives thing began.

"I’m here to support them, if they come out I’ll give them a thumbs up.”

“Stand with students, stand against gun violence," added Landes.  "Hopefully young people and old people like myself will stand together.”

The Thurston Fence commemorates the victims of Kip Kinkel, who opened fire in the school cafeteria nearly 20 years ago. Two students were killed, and two dozen more were wounded. Kinkel’s parents were killed the night before.

One student reached via Twitter said there were no walk-outs at THS.  "It didn't gain enough traction," he added. 

THS did participate in a March 14th "March for Our Lives" event, but it was contained within school grounds.  KEZI-TV reported then that there was confusionas to whether students were allowed to leave a space within the main campus.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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