'We want students to speak up,' Granite Hills students hold protest against violence

Students in the South Valley are protesting against violence after the Florida shooting.

Granite Hills High School held a unity protest where hundreds of students rallied in their amphitheater giving them a chance to speak in front of the student body and staff.

Strong words amplified by passionate voices as hundreds of students rally in support -- that was the scene.

"I hope they all leave with an open mind and all speak up because today we want to influence students to speak out about how they feel," said Senior Jesus Gomez.

Gomez, the heart and brains behind the Student Unity Protest, helped fill the Porterville Unified school with over 800 students together at lunch. 

He said instead of a walk out, like many happening in high schools cross the United States, students need unity. 

"We really must come together as a unit and as a whole school so students feel empowered because we can make a big change," he said.

The message of the event, simple. Safety in schools. 

"We have 14 through 18-year-olds coming together to be heard. They're being heard by being here today," said Principal Apolinar Marroquin.

He said the peaceful protest gave students a platform after Florida's tragic shooting followed by a string of school threats throughout the Central Valley over the past two weeks. 

"It's really made us look at emergency procedures, like running more drills, and overall communication," he said.

The protest -- student run and student led.

"They are learning how to take action peacefully. Having a student come up with the idea was amazing," said Gomez' English Teacher Carrin Blyth.

Granite Hills High School's administration said last Friday the school lost half of its attendance after some school threats on social media, so Friday was the perfect time for unity.


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