Billings student launches GoFundMe to pay for school walkout and march

A group of Billings students have chosen to join a nationwide movement calling for "legislation that protects and prepares schools against gun violence."

Clara Bentler is a Junior at Senior High School.  She says the decision to come together in this movement followed a call by members of the "Moms Demand Action" group earlier this week.

The students are calling themselves a sister branch of "March For Our Lives," but they are not formally a part of the national group.

Bentler says that about 25 students got together Monday night and began talking out their plan which includes two parts.

Part one is a planned walkout on March 14th at 10:00 AM. Bentler says students plan to walk out of class with signs and march up and down Grand Avenue for 17 minutes. That's one minute for each of the people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in South Florida on February 14th.

The second part of the student protest involves a more formal student march downtown on Saturday, March 24th. That's where their GoFundMe campaign comes in.

Bentler says she's learning a lot about how civic marches are organized legally. The $6,000 goal would pay for permits, insurance, barricades, and porta potties. The money will also be used to purchase bumper stickers, signs, and supplies.

Bentler credits Allison Johnson, a Junior at Billings West, for helping to get everything organized. Bentler says Johnson brought a lot of knowledge to the table thanks in part to her participation with recent women's marches.

Asked about communication with the school system, Bentler says the group is hopeful to have a dialogue with school administrators. "We want to work with them. We hope they will work with us, and maybe wait until after the walkout to take attendance."

Bentler also says that the group hopes to speak before the school board Monday night. 

As of Saturday, only one student from Skyview High has joined the group. Bentler is hoping more students from Skyview will join them.

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