ORLANDO, Fla. - Students from coast to coast walked out Wednesday to protest gun violence and honor the lives of the 17 people who were shot and killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
March 14 marks the one-month anniversary of the shooting.
“ENOUGH National School Walkout” was organized by students working with the Women’s March Youth Empower to call for action on gun control.
The Orange County School District said 50 to 70 schools are took part in the walkout and Wekiva High School is on that list.
Hundreds of Wekiva students walked out and met in the courtyard, starting at 9:30 a.m. Seventeen desks sat empty in the courtyard during an hour-long ceremony to honor the lives lost in the Parkland shooting.
“I feel like it’s really powerful. I feel like it’s going to get a big message out to Congress that they need to change something in our politics,” said student Maddie Weldon.
The names of all 17 Parkland victims were read out loud.
The principal said administrators helped with the event, but it was led by students and optional for them to attend.
“We facilitated. They totally came up with the ideas, the planning and we just helped them make it happen,” said principal Michele Erickson.
“We were trying to create a safe, orderly space for our children to be able to express themselves, and that's what we are providing," Orange County Schools representative Scott Howat said.
Raw: Wekiva High School students stage walkout
Wekiva students said that throughout the day they will make a point to introduce themselves to 17 new people on campus.
They said they feel safe on campus, but want more to be done to protect students.
“I think it will actually cause some change and will actually prevent something like this from happening again,” said student Nicole Diaz.
Other schools throughout Central Florida also took part in the walkouts.
“Seeing them come together for this was truly amazing. Knowing that everyone cares about this and it’s taken seriously was really amazing to see,” said Lake Howell High School Student Derek Isaac.
After the walkout, two students placed a banner outside the school's front gate that reads, “Honoring and standing with the victims of Marjory Stoneman Douglas.”
“The moment I heard the bell and I saw everybody walking, it was breathtaking,” said student Juan Nova.
Nova and Isaac helped organize he walkout.
“We tried to stay away from the political aspect of this, but it was mostly trying to remember the victims,” said Isaac. “Seeing them come together for this was truly amazing.”
They called this the "hawk walk" because of the school's mascot. this is not the only school honoring victims.
Some students wore pins that said, “Time for Change,” and shirts that said, “People. Purpose. Perspective.”
“It's important our nation takes the opinion and takes the value of our youth seriously,” said Nova.
Nova said out of 2,000 students, only 500 walked out.
The school district said it did not endorse any walkout in the county and teachers were told to continue their lessons or exams.
However, administrators worked with student groups only to supervise to make sure they were safe.
There were no reported disturbances related to the walkout.
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