After dealing with the recent suicide of their 14-year-old friend, two brothers planned to participate in the walkout at Swansboro High School partly in her memory.

They didn’t get to.

“They actually called us to an assembly,” said 17-year-old Dakota Schweitzer. “They claimed that the 17 minutes would be a disruption of class and yet, they called us . . . before class even ended.”

During the assembly, Dakota said 17 seconds of silence was asked for in honor of the 17 students and faculty who lost their lives in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

“We had probably like 5 seconds of silence,” Dakota said, citing students not being quiet as the reason. “After that, they never mentioned it again. They had like a pep rally.”

Tug of war, hula hoop, and other games were played, Dakota said, and though he tried to walk out there were teachers blocking the exits to prevent it.

Written up

His brother, 15-year-old Tyler Schweitzer, was actually written up for trying to walk out. Tyler said a school administrator told him the students would be able to participate in the national walkout.

Tyler said he walked to the door and a school resource officer (SRO) was blocking it. When Tyler told him he was going to push past him and walk out anyway, the SRO put his hand on his Taser, Tyler said. At that point, he decided to just walk away.

Due to Tyler trying to walk out against the SRO and some choice words he used, he was written up. Tyler said he spoke with the same administrator about it and she seemed unaware that students wouldn’t be allowed to participate.

She then got the write up decreased to a warning because cussing wasn’t allowed, but there was no reason for Tyler not to try to walk out when he thought he’d be able to, Tyler said.


Swansboro was apparently not the only school in Onslow County without a walkout. In an email, OCS Director of Community Affairs Brent Anderson described the programs, messages from the school board, readings of the names of the shooting victims, and moments of silence that went on at area schools but mentioned no walkouts.

The Daily News asked Anderson why students weren’t allowed to participate and were prevented from doing so.

“Students at Swansboro High were not told, nor prevented, from walking out of classes. If they requested to leave, they were asked to go to a secured and supervised area on campus for their safety,” Anderson wrote in an emailed response.

The walk out, which was held in schools across the country, was to protest gun violence. For Tyler, it hit a little closer to home and he and his brother had additional reasons to participate.

“My friend just a month ago committed suicide because of bullying and I wanted that to change. Something needs to happen,” Dakota said.

Tyler said he’s experienced bullying himself.

“(The walk out) was important to me because every day around my school people get bullied,” Tyler said.

Dakota agreed with his brother, saying hundreds of students are affected by bullying.

“I just don’t want more people to have to go through what she had to,” Dakota said of his friend.

Not safe or secure

The best outcome, Tyler said, would be for the schools to take action and hold bullies accountable for their actions.

“The fact is, I am more safer in an airport than a place where I’m supposed to feel secure,” Dakota said. “That’s what school is supposed to be for us students, somewhere that is safe and closed out from like the world so we can have a safe education.”

The boys' mother, Kimberly Hofferbert, said she was floored when her sons told her teachers barricaded the doors to prevent them from participating in the walk out. She’s taught her kids to stand up for what they believe in. She encouraged their choice to walk out, and she’s particularly disturbed by Tyler saying the SRO put a hand on his Taser, she said.

“I find it disturbing that my children’s constitutional rights were taken away from them today,” Hofferbert said.


Reporter Amanda Thames can be reached at 910-219-8467 or