Some Grosse Pointe students sit out protest claiming opinion suppression

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In Grosse Pointe, many students planning to take part in the demonstration decided to back out Wednesday.

It all had to do with the message they wanted to talk about - and the message that school administrators wanted them to focus on instead.

At 10 a.m. the scene outside schools looked the same across the country and here in Metro Detroit. The national walkout with more than 3,000 schools in America had at least one message in common: "We're with you" to the victims of the Stoneman Douglas school massacre exactly one month ago.   

At Grosse Pointe North High School, the turnout was a little smaller. Many students, including those on the school newspaper, said they wanted to demonstrate but their message was controlled by the school, and not them.  

"We believe that the student organizers put in a valiant effort in creating this walkout," said student Alex Harring. "But the talking points from the district were pushed upon them without much room for discussion. 

Students inside of the high school spoke to FOX 2 by way of their cellphones while on a break, sending us answers to questions we asked of them. 

They say they wanted to have a demonstration today which included anything they wanted to touch on - even if it meant talking gun control.  But the school system told them to stick to their key messages.  

"We encouraged students to participate but we just wanted them to have a critical eye with how it was organized," said student Lindsey Ramsdell. "And to really think about personally what change they want to see come from this and go out and do something more on their own."

The Superintendent of Grosse Pointe Schools said they wanted students to rally for stronger and more secure schools and to support the victims of the Parkland shooting.  

FOX 2: They felt like they weren't able to fully express their opinions like gun control and other issues.  How do you respond to those students?

"I think we wanted to keep it apolitical if we could," said Superintendent Gary Niehaus. "Obviously we are not going to solve the issues around gun legislation.  I think what we were trying to do is provide a strong student voice toward rallying against school violence." 

FOX 2: "There are some students who were upset by the fact they weren't able to express what they wanted to say so they wanted to not take part."

"And that's their choice," said Niehaus. 

About 40 percent of the school took part at Grosse Pointe North, the others did not.   And while not on the same page, the students who were disappointed, still gave credit to their administration 

"We were grateful that the district allowed this walkout to take place because a lot of districts have shut down any kinds of demonstrations or created their own," Ramsdell said.