Some local schools encouraged their students to protest on Wednesday. But Rio Rancho High School was not one them.
A little before 10 o’clock, about 15 students stood on Rio Rancho High campus surrounded by administrators just as their protest was supposed to start. The plan was to stand outside for 17 minutes – one for each person who was killed in last month’s school shooting in Florida.
Eighteen-year-old Mackenzie Mills led the walkout effort.
"I want people to know they have a voice whether they think it or not. And whether people are telling you that you’re not allowed to have a voice, that you still do," she said. "And you have to be willing to push back and receive the consequences."
Adults closed in on her and the other protesters as she spoke as if to pressure the students to stop.
Students said administrators told them they would get unexcused absences if they protested. The principal said going off campus was dangerous. But they weren’t allowed to protest on campus, either.
Ultimately, the students did go off campus to protest and then returned to class. They say, so far, there haven’t been any consequences.
KUNM’s Public Health New Mexico project is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the McCune Charitable Foundation, and the Con Alma Health Foundation.