Student activism is on full display Wednesday as students in the Philadelphia region and beyond walked out of their classrooms to mark the one-month anniversary of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting.
Students — many not old enough to vote — at private and public, small and large area schools left classes around 10 a.m. to protest gun violence in what was expected to be the biggest national demonstration yet that has emerged following the massacre of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
[NATL] Students Stage Walkouts Across the US to Protest Gun Violence
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Students at Philadelphia’s iconic Central High School left class and gathered on the lawn for 17 minutes of solidarity, one minute for each victim of the Florida school shooting.
[PHI Photos] From Pa. to NJ to Del., Students Walk Out to Protest Gun Violence
Outside Central High, juniors Makyiah Adams and Cassidy Arrington delivered a powerful spoken word poem:
"If you're still defending the NRA, then you just haven't thought about it enough. And, if you're still torn between the right to carry and the right to breath, then you just haven't thought about it enough. Maybe this is why they call teenagers irrational, it must seem naively absurd to actually thinking through a problem. And maybe this is why they call teenagers entitled when my right to live is more important than your right to carry. So get off your hands because every student here would be glad to see you on your feet."
Following the walkout at Central and other schools, students planned to join parents, elected officials, educators and community members in a march organized by the Philadelphia Student Union group to the Philadelphia School District headquarters along Broad Street. They then marched to City Hall for a 12:30 p.m. rally.
The Philadelphia School District said it won’t discipline students who walked out as long as they returned to the building to resume normal school activities once the walkout is over.
Students at Cherry Hill West walked out ahead of 10 a.m., carrying signs as they marched around the campus.
At other schools, events acknowledging the movement were held inside school. At Pennsauken High School in New Jersey, about 1,300 students signed up for a “walkout” of class but not the school building as 17 bells tolled for the 17 victims.
Not all schools are on board with students plans to protest. At Sayreville War Memorial in New Jersey, the administration said that any students who left school will be given a two-day suspension.