Hundreds of local students participate in National Walkout Day to protest gun violence
LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) -- Warning their futures are being stolen from them, tens of thousands of young people across the U.S. walked out of school to demand action on gun violence Wednesday in one of the biggest student protests since the Vietnam era.
Across the country and beyond, students were urged to leave class at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes — one minute in tribute to the 17 dead in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
In Washington, more than 2,000 high-school age protesters observed the 17 minutes of silence by sitting on the ground with their backs turned to the White House as a church bell tolled.
In our area, several area schools allowed students to participate.
Students at E.C. Glass High School did not walk outside, but instead gathered inside the auditorium and held a moment of silence to honor each victim of the shooting, lasting 17 minutes.
The students who organized this said they weren't part of a special group. They had each individually approached the principal or school board and told them they wanted to do something, going on to say they were terrified and upset when they first heard about Parkland and that this needs to stop.
"What if I was the one giving that interview being like I just saw my friends being killed. Like that could be us. Those kids, they're our age and it's just horrifying that this could happen at any moment," said Kate Staton, a sophomore who helped organize the event.
Students estimate around 300 participated.
After they finished inside the auditorium, the students went back to class.
At Heritage High School hundreds of students participated in National Walkout Day.
Students didn't leave the building, but they did gather in the gym for a student-lead event.
They started by naming the victims of the Parkland shooting, then followed it with a moment of silence and a call to action.
"We wanted to make people aware that gun violence is really an issue because many lives are lost when they don't need to be and so we just wanted to remember the kids that were lost and make an impact and make everybody aware of the problem," said Marabeth Hammersmith, one of the organizers.
Towards the end of the event, students signed a banner that will hang in the school.
It had the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school colors and logo and students wrote notes like "the pioneers stand with the Eagles" and "all lives matter".
The walkout lasted 17 minutes before students returned to class.
College students also participated in the national walkout.
Students at Randolph College said the country is at a point where thoughts and prayers are not enough.
Students say that for the better part of their life, they've known that a school shooting was a possibility and its time to change that.
About 70 students walked out of class to stand in solidarity with students at Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida; the protest was entirely student-run, but many faculty and staff walked out with students in support.
They started with a moment of silence and then prayer.
Students say they're here to call on congress to wake up and make a change.
Appomattox County High School wanted to do things a little different on National Walkout Day Wednesday, March 14.
Instead of walking out, students and parents held a Pray at the Pole event.
Parents said they want to encourage students to show kindness to everyone at school like those who might be being bullied or left out.
At 7:15 a.m., they gathered around the flat pole at Appomattox County High School and prayed for the schools, teachers, and students across the country.
Bedford County Sheriff Mike Brown said the walk out was smooth and there were no problems after all three high schools and middle schools in the county participated, but no students went outside and they did not let anyone inside.
School officials at Jefferson Forest High School said about 250-300 students of 1,387 sat in silence in the cafeteria during national walk out.
Danville Public Schools didn't officially participate in the national walkout, but some students did walk out of George Washington High School.
The Superintendent says this week's two snow days forced them to postpone their events they had planned in light of the walk out.
Galileo High School students will hold a unity event on Friday.
Previously, Campbell County Public Schools said they would let students participate and would announce the location that students would gather Wednesday morning. They would not let anyone inside the building and would not give any details as to how they were participating.
Hundreds of students gathered on the Rotunda at the University of Virginia.
After the demonstration, people were invited inside the Rotunda to write letters to their lawmakers, asking for more gun control.