Teen is lone student to walk out at Wilson school

Teen is lone student to walk out at Wilson school
(From WNCN)

WILSON, NC (WNCN) - As thousands of students across the country marched out of classrooms together, a student in a North Carolina high school stood alone in solidarity.

Justin Blackman, a sophomore at Wilson Preparatory Academy, was the only student at his school of 700 to participate in the National School Walkout.

"Today, I definitely found out that one person can change the world," said 16-year-old Blackman.

Nationwide, students walked out of school as a tribute to the 17 people killed in a shooting last month at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Some students used the walkout as a call to action for legislators to pass stricter gun control measures.

Blackman said he's spoken with classmates earlier in the day but none seemed to know about the walkout.

Blackman says he set an alarm for 9:58 a.m. It went off during his Spanish class and he stood up to participate in the walkout.

He says when he got outside, he was surprised to be standing alone but wasn't deterred to act.

"Because the 17 people in Florida that are dead, they can't protest anymore, they can't do anything anymore but lie in their grave because a kid not even too far from my age was able to access a gun," Blackman said.

He says he got on social media to try and encourage other students to join him, and when he realized no one else was coming – he began to pray.

"I prayed for the ones that died," he said. "It's sad that they had to leave this world without even getting to grow up really. They were still young."

While outside Blackman posted a 28-second video on Twitter.

"Its National Walkout Day. I'm the only one in my school out here. No one here, but me," he tells the camera.

Since posting the video has been retweeted more than 26,000 times. It even caught the attention of a Stoneman Douglas High School student who thanked Blackman for his support.

"She was telling me about how she really liked what I did. I told her it was no big deal and I would want someone to do it if, if was this school, God forbid," said Blackman.

Blackman says the deadly shooting in Florida made him more aware of the nation's gun laws, and he would like to see stricter legislation passed.

Some of Justin's classmates said they wanted to participate, but were afraid they would get in trouble.
Others say they support the message and think stricter gun control measures are necessary.

"I would have rather done it in remembrance of the 17 killed in Parkland, rather than just to protest gun violence," said Natalie Glover an 11th-grade student at Wilson Prepatory Academy.

Janet Knox, a spokesperson for Wilson Prepatory Academy, said there were no penalties for students who wished to participate in the walkout, and that teachers did not stop students from participating.

Knox said she couldn't comment on the walkout itself, but added the school was proud of Blackman for standing up for his beliefs.

"We are always looking and focused on our students being independent thinker, and that's what that scholar is. He is an independent thinker," said Knox.