Simeon students make amends after classmates trash Walmart during walkout

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Students from a Chatham high school are planning a community service event after classmates trashed a Walmart store during a walkout Wednesday. (WLS)

A group of Simeon Career Academy students are planning community service to make amends for classmates who took advantage of Wednesday's school walkout to trash a Walmart store.

Students from the Chatham high school joined students around the country in the national walkout in favor of increased gun control. Activists from Simeon's student body organized the event.

"When we came outside, and we thought we had 50 people behind us, and the whole school poured out, we stopped for a minute right in front of the school and we was like 'We did this,'" said Simeon junior Tijonae Middleton. "We are so powerful."

Police say about 60 students left the walkout and entered a Walmart location on South Stewart Avenue. According to police, the students trashed the store and stole food and clothing.

"When I heard about what actually happened when we got back inside the school, third or fourth period, I was very upset," said Simeon junior Nerica Johnson. "Like the videos we put out on social media got no recognition but Walmart videos got 400 plus shares in 15 minutes."

"Hundreds of students stood outside and returned at the scheduled time," Simeon Principal Dr. Sheldon House wrote in a statement. "Please accept my apology on behalf of some students who chose to challenge the climate of hope we teach at Simeon. This is not who we are."

In a statement, a Walmart spokesperson said the company strives "to maintain a safe and secure environment" for shoppers and finds the incident to be "disturbing."

Walkout organizers said they are planning a community service project in response to the vandalism.

"I would like to say Simeon does care about the Chatham community," said Simeon junior Jayla Reed. "We are in it every day, all year and the issues that happened doesn't reflect the care we have for this community."
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